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.

SB 237 Threatens Community Choice Energy

SB 237, authored by California State Senator Hertzberg (D-18), threatens to increase the use of fossil fuels in California by undercutting Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs. The bill would allow businesses to circumvent CCE providers and buy electricity directly from suppliers. These suppliers would be subject to the state’s required minimum on the renewable content of the electricity – whereas CCEs consistently exceed those minimums. Therefore, this bill would reduce the use of renewables, hurt renewable energy job growth, and likely bankrupt all current CCEs. This bill would effectively end existing CCE programs and halt their future expansion throughout California.

credit pixabay

Community Choice Energy allows communities, rather than the utility companies, to purchase electricity. CCE programs offer different packages with varying renewable content, wherein residents can choose the pricing that works best for them. This increases renewable use and decreases fossil fuel emissions, at cheaper prices than the electricity provided by utilities. The California Community Choice Association estimates 2018 bill savings to be at 99 million.

[Read more…]

Drilling Off California’s Coast – A Supremely Bad Idea

The Trump Administration has proposed opening up nearly all our nation’s offshore waters, including off our California shores, to drilling. This Jan. 4, 2018 proposal is a slap in the face to anyone who wants to safeguard this planet we call our home. And we must act now to oppose it.

Damage from Oil Spills

The risks of offshore drilling are undeniable, and most Californians oppose new drilling. Not least among these risks are oil spills which occur during various stages of oil production. Small daily leaks from drilling operations harm the marine ecosystem. A map of Marine life along the Pacific Coast illustrates some of the species potentially harmed by oil spills. And then there’s the very real potential for catastrophic spills.

Most of us will remember the devastating explosion in 2010 at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. That explosion resulted in an almost three-month-long oil spill, affecting wildlife, marine ecosystems and livelihoods and fouling the shore from Texas to Florida.

[Read more…]

SD350 Interfaith Team Addresses Faith and the Climate Crisis at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living

On May 27th, Philip Petrie and John Michno of the SanDiego350 Interfaith Team presented a free climate change workshop, entitled “Faith and the Climate Crisis,” at the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living in Encinitas. Phil and John organized the workshop with Sandy Atkinson of Seaside Center’s Earth Care Ministry, along with other representatives of the Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice (ICEJ). The San Dieguito Ministerial Association sponsored the event along with the Seaside Center.

The People Behind the Presentation

Phil, an artist by vocation, is a founding member of SD350. He co-leads SD350’s  Interfaith Team, the work of which includes giving workshops on climate change to diverse faith communities around the San Diego area. He also helped found the ICEJ and co-founded Simpler Living, a creation care ministry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. [Read more…]

We Need to Resist SDG&E’s Proposed New Natural Gas Pipeline!

Calling on all San Diegans to unite in resisting the construction of Natural Gas Pipeline 3602!

The construction of Pipeline 3602 (PL 3602) prolongs antiquated and maladaptive technology that flies in the face of reason. This project is being pushed by purely profit-motivated business executives trapped in the past. Their primary concern is certainly not the welfare of San Diegans.

What doesn’t belong in this picture? Credit: Stock Snap

[Read more…]

You Can’t Get Clean Energy From Natural Gas!

Pretty… toxic Picture Credit: Pexels

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on January 26th 2018
By Edward Bergan / SanDiego350

In retrospect, branding the toxic gas that emerges from underground deposits as “natural gas” was a stroke of marketing genius. It sounds so, well, natural. But natural gas is much more like “organic tobacco” – harmful in any form.

The more experts study natural gas, the more evidence they find that this fossil fuel is inflicting great damage on our environment. It is damaging when it’s burned and damaging when it’s extracted from the ground. In fact, the extraction and burning of natural gas to produce electricity is a dirty process. This dirty process impacts the clean water and air we need to live. [Read more…]

Climate Chat: Holding Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

By Stephanie Corkran

SanDiego350 sponsored a “Climate Chat” this month on the theme of “Holding Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable”. The venue was the First Unitarian Universalist Church, Hillcrest – a perfect venue, explained the Church’s Rev. Ian Riddell because of their commitment to environmental issues.

The main focus of the event was that California communities such as Imperial Beach are suing fossil fuel companies for the costs of their deceptions. Oil and gas corporations have known since the early 1960s what the consequences of burning fossil fuels would be. As sea levels rise and climate events intensify, governments are forced to invest in costly mitigation and infrastructure projects to adapt to a changing environment. [Read more…]

A Look at Climate Change Effects On San Diego County

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on December 6th 2017
By Cynthia Wootton and Angela Deegan / SanDiego350

A  recent presentation by Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan of UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography on climate change held locally (at the San Diego City Council Environment Committee meeting), made us wonder what climate change might look like here in San Diego County.

Typically, weather events will conform to two characteristics of climate change: more extreme and, generally, more frequent weather events. [Read more…]

Juliana v. U.S.: A healthy planet  –  worthy cause or a right?

Credit: Pixabay

by Ivanna Patton

The debate on climate change in the U.S. is taking an unexpected turn. New questions are being raised, not about whether a healthy climate is a cause the government should support, but rather a human right they must defend.

Twenty-one youths, in conjunction with Earth Guardians, say it’s a human right, and have sued the U.S government. Their case, Juliana v. U.S., has been pretty promising so far. Since its inception in 2015, it’s already become one of the most widely discussed lawsuits in the history of the environmental movement.

[Read more…]

San Diego’s Community Choice Energy Technical Study Stands Up Under Scrutiny

Conservative Assumptions Camouflage this New Energy Option’s Benefits

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on October 27th 2017
For a primer on Community Choice Energy, see this San Diego Free Press article.

Credit: Pixabay

By Tyson Siegele / San Diego 350

San Diego struggles under the yoke of the highest electricity prices in the state. Meanwhile, thousands of cities across the United States have executed a plan to reduce their electricity prices, called Community Choice Energy. City officials hired an expert to determine if Community Choice would work here too. The technical study, also known as the feasibility study, found that San Diego would benefit from Community Choice, just like thousands of cities before it.

In July, when the City released the technical study, several publications such as the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Voice of San Diegohighlighted the main finding of the study: “San Diego could provide cheaper, greener energy than SDG&E.” Now, having had several months to digest the findings and compare them to Community Choice Energy programs across the state, additional conclusions can be teased out of the study.

SDG&E provides high-cost energy with average clean energy content

To understand the technical study better, one needs context. Stating that CCE can provide “cheaper, cleaner” energy does not allow us to adequately judge the program. How much cheaper? How much cleaner? The following table lists the percentages of *pollution-free electricity from various providers in California. [Read more…]