A new report in Forbes suggests that there could be greater harm than good in this well-intended plan.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 100 to create a new California green energy target. It will eliminate all use from the state electric grid by the year 2045.
While this does sound like a highly positive eco-friendly step, some wonder if it may also cause harm.
At the moment, the state consumes 206 billion kilowatt hours (bn kWh) of electricity every year. This is more energy consumption than many countries with populations many times the size of California. At the moment, more than one third of California’s power generation comes from natural gas. Though the California green energy target is often considered to be the gold standard in the country, a Forbes report questions whether it is pushing things too hard and too fast.
California currently features the some of the highest penetration rates of renewable energy in the United States. Residents also pay about 50 percent more for their electricity than the average for the country. This makes the state the seventh highest in residential energy prices in the U.S.
What will the S.B. 100 California green energy target do for the state and its residents.
The report acknowledges that the political will for stronger green energy targets is certainly in place in California. It has always placed among the most ambitious in the country for cutting the use of fossil fuels in favor of greener alternative energy sources. There is a strict renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the state for power generation. This requires one third of electricity sales in the state to come from renewable energy sources in two years from now. Moreover, that will need to reach 50 percent by 2050.
Among residents, these are very popular policies. Two out of every three Californians supports the state’s enactment of its own climate change policies overtop of federal regulations. Moreover, 56 percent are in favor of the state’s current cap-and-trade policy. Seventy two percent of adults and 66 percent of voters approved of S.B. 100. Among them, 81 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans give the nod.
That said, the Forbes report pointed to certain criticisms of the California green energy target. For instance, it underscored the very high cost of changing the grid and that the transition itself may generate even more greenhouse gas emissions over the short- to medium-term.