California Reaches for 100% Renewable Energy

By Laura Sisk-Hackworth, SanDiego350

A bill vital to the fight against climate change is coming up for a vote in the coming weeks. SB 100, the California Clean Energy Act of 2018, would increase current renewable energy targets in California, setting the state on track to achieve 100% renewable and carbon-free electrical energy by 2045.

New Goals

Climate change is no longer a distant problem for later generations to deal with; it affects us today. The two largest California wildfires in recorded history have been in the past two years, ocean temperatures on our coast just hit a new record, and a global heatwave set record-high temperatures around the world this summer.

Given the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on an increasingly unstable climate, we must reduce our emissions as quickly as possible. SB 100 will help California do just that. California’s greenhouse gas emissions from generation of electricity would decrease under SB 100 – by increasing the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS is the percent of electricity sales sourced from renewable energy. The following chart shows the rise in RPS standards between current goals and the goals set in SB 100.

Year RPS Current Goals RPS SB 100 Goals
2024 40% 44%
2027 45% 52%
2030 50% 60%

Chart data derived from the Bill Text.

SB 100 also states that carbon-free and renewable energy supply 100% of electricity sales to California customers and state agencies by December of 2045. Crucially, it mandates that the use of 100% renewable and carbon-free energy not increase carbon emissions in the rest of the western grid. There’s little use decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions if we cause the emissions of other states to increase.

These new goals are completely attainable. Solar and wind costs are falling. Storage of renewable energy can be accomplished with increasingly cheaper batteries and other energy storage innovations. Alternative energy purchasing entities, like Community Choice Aggregators, utilize high levels of renewables and save residents money. In 2016, California’s renewable content already reached 34% of the total energy sold, which exceeds current targets. So these new goals are within reach.

Better Planning

SB 100 will drive a better plan for California’s energy. SB 100 would require the three major California agencies that regulate energy – the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission – to include the new RPS in any relevant planning decisions. It would also require that, as our energy system changes, these agencies maintain the reliability and integrity of the grid, keep prices affordable for residents, and prepare periodic reports on the progress towards the goals to keep them accountable to the public.

Take Action!

SB 100 will make California cleaner, increase its leadership in the climate fight, and lessen dependency on the fossil fuel industry. However, there are some obstacles in the way of the passing of this important bill. Governor Brown might try to hold it hostage to his pet bill, AB 813, which would give California’s control over its energy grid to western, coal-dominated states. SB 100 was introduced in January 2017 and has been stalled for a year and a half. The bill will be brought to a vote before August 31. We can’t allow SB 100 to be held back again! Find your legislator here and tell them to support SB 100.

About the Author

Laura Sisk-Hackworth is a SanDiego 350 volunteer who has worked in environmental and research science fields. Originally from the Inland Empire, she became concerned about climate change in 6th grade and has since then worked to educated herself and others on the challenges a changing climate will present.


  1. Noticed your other post,…


    So has anyone associated with SD350 ever consider the bigger picture about how public pensions are structured and what are its knock on effects WRT climate change?

    I’ve been following the topic of climate change ever since I was a student at UCSD where I learned drought in this region can last longer than a human life time AND that there have been two long term drought events that happened in the past 1200 years,… which in geological time, is akin to a blink of an eye

    Given symptoms of climate change like record high seawater temperature measured at Scripps Pier, wildfires, etc., the BIG question that needs answers is,… do we have “infrastructure” adequate to meet the challenge of a worst case scenario AND can we cover the cost (which coincidentally also is an unanswered question WRT the local public pension portfolio issue)


    The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a San Diego citizens’ initiative that cut back city employee pensions was illegally placed on the ballot, and ordered a lower court to consider a remedy.



    …the court sent the case back to an appellate court for “judicial remedy,” raising huge questions about whether the reforms — approved by two out of three San Diego voters in 2012 and unique in the state — would survive and how much — $20 million? $100 million? — the city might have to cough up to remedy the violation. No one knows.

    I mention this news item because one unique perspective everyone in the SoCal region should think about,… is to consider unfunded public pension debt as akin to stress slowly building up between tectonic plates which eventually is going to cause an “economic” earthquake of biblical proportions

    Yeah, I know,… the description of an “economic” earthquake of biblical proportions might seem like a dramatic over exaggeration BUT since the amount of unfunded pension debt (in just California alone) is around a TRILLION dollars, the phrase seems appropriate!

    Given the dismal financial state of public pensions AND dismal trends associated with climate change (two man made problems caused by idiotic stewardship),… seems the perfect storm is brewing because unsustainable debt being built up in various public pension portfolios intersects a period of danger associated with climate change


    There’s a very small but distinct possibility that rapid global warming could pose an “existential threat” to the survival of humans by 2050, UC San Diego said Thursday in one of the most dire forecasts yet about climate change.

    So given the credible scientific “Scripps” study it is important to explore the topic of unsustainable public pensions ASAP, because if there is an economic contagion due to public pensions failing,… it will in turn affect the ability of government(s) to finance large scale infrastructure projects needed for mankind to adapt to a world where climate change is a harsh reality

    Perhaps a good place to start addressing the matter at hand is for the press to look into one thing that has not been covered,… basically the topic of how the pension debt built up in the first place,… and because taxpayers ultimately pay the costs, two basic “mistakes” of responsible portfolio management should be reported on WRT to the case in San Diego

    The first portfolio management mistake made is the local public pension portfolio custodians (i.e. politicians) who have allowed giving away a 13th pension payment (for three decades plus).

    This is a problem because unlike an optional 13th home mortgage payment which decreases the time and interest paid on a loan,… things here work in reverse, in other words giving away a 13th pension payment makes the pension debt obligation grow over time!

    Compounding the basic middle school math “error” of a 13th pension payment is public employ union leadership (i.e. public pension recipients) who see no problem w/ not requiring fully funding the portfolio every fiscal year,… basically this is akin to only paying a “minimum credit card payment.”

    Seems all those directly involved in creating the pension debt problem (i.e. politicians and public employee union members) have not acted like fiduciaries for taxpayers money, but more like foxes guarding the henhouse OR said another way act just like many in the fossil fuel industry, who deny climate change is a problem


    The bottom line: public pension plans’ poor funding levels would be even worse if they were accounted for the way that private pension plans are, the fact that their accounting methods differ has contributed to the funding crisis, and Jeremy Gold was either a prophetic or foolish in attempting to call attention to this fact.


    …The U.S. Code of Professional Conduct calls upon actuaries to be loyal to their clients. In the case of public plans, the clients are usually the boards of trustees that administer the plans; the state and local governments that sponsor plans and the unions representing public employees also may hire actuaries.

    …The actuarial profession acknowledges, but does not fulfill, its duty to the public.

    Anyway since taxpayers are ultimately paying the bill, it would be nice if the news media acted like watchdogs and reported to public as if they were an outside investor doing a due diligence analysis on the public pension portfolio debt build up,… which then considers the implication of “debt” as a limiting factor to build infrastructure needed for people to deal w/ climate change

    FWIW, a PDF document on GoogleDocs w/ an easy to access means exists (that outlines the pension “debt” problem as a diligent investor might look at the issue),…

    PS the guy who got me interested in the topic of climate change, just happens he is the prof who al gore credits as the guy who got him interested in the topic as well,… AND seems some powerful forces were in play long ago to try and cast doubt on the topic revelle pioneered (studies of CO2 and its long term effects)

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