California Signs 50% Renewable Energy Target Into Law
California has long been at the forefront of renewable energy usage. Recently, Jerry Brown, the state’s governor, signed a new bill into law specifying that half of all the state’s energy must be generated using renewable technology by 2030.
The law is one of the most ambitious in the Western world, and one of the few green energy targets written into law instead of established as a guideline. The law is seen as a key part of reducing California’s contribution to worldwide climate change.
California, which is the world’s eighth largest economy, has taken aggressive steps in recent years to become more energy independent and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
The state, which experienced a large-scale energy crisis in 2000 and 2001, has also introduced strict controls on air quality and pollution. Los Angeles, which is one of the United States’ most polluted big cities, has seen a significant reduction in smog over the last decade.
Governor Brown stated that a “decarbonised future” is the aim of the bill. He noted that the laws would be particularly important for low-income families, who benefit from the reduced cost of renewable energy compared to traditional fossil fuels.
At the signing, Brown also had serious words for states that continue to use fossil fuels. “What has been the source of our prosperity now becomes the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off it. And that is difficult.”
California’s efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels have been successful so far, with the state achieving ambitious green energy targets. According to the state’s regulators, California generated 25% of its energy from renewables last year.
In 2006, the government set a mandate to reach 33% of its total energy production from renewable sources by 2020. New investment in solar and wind farms mean it will likely achieve its goal in advance of the 2020 deadline.
Silicon Valley, one of California’s major economic hubs, is also investing heavily in green technologies. Other states to have implemented ambitious renewable energy targets include Hawaii, Vermont and Maine.
The state has also introduced new laws aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency in buildings. The latest law mandates a 100% increase in energy efficiency across California by the year 2030.
Experts, however, believe that implementing the law may be tough. James Sweeney, the director of the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford University, is not sure if the law is going to be viable “without major economic consequences.”
Environmental groups also expressed disappointment at the law, due to the major concessions made to oil and petroleum producers that many claim were the result of lobbying.
New regulations aimed at reducing petroleum consumption by 50% over the next 15 years were removed from the bill. Despite this, most were pleased by the large steps outlined in the bill to increase California’s green energy generation by 2030.