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…]

California Should Not Risk Its Clean Energy Future on Extreme Strategies

California will soon decide whether to combine its electric grid management with western states dependent on coal mining and coal-based electricity. This massive change has been proposed in the form of Assembly Bill 813 and before that in Assembly Bill 726. If passed, either of those bills would provide an avenue for coal-fired electricity to gain access to the California market. This would make the transition to renewable energy even harder.

Unifying California’s grid operations with other western states would be a huge risk. Thankfully better options are available.

[Read more…]

La Mesa City Council Adopts Strong Climate Action Plan -Volunteers learn what grassroots organizing can accomplish

On March 13th, the City Council of La Mesa unanimously adopted a strong Climate Action Plan (CAP), with a goal of 100% clean energy. This victory came after three years of persistent advocacy and organizing efforts by SanDiego350 La Mesa volunteers and our allies.

The SanDiego350 La Mesa CAP campaign began with our attendance at a meeting of the Environmental Sustainability Commission in early 2015. This was where the first draft of the Plan was released. Along with Climate Action Campaign, we identified numerous deficiencies in the Plan – it lacked a goal of 100% clean energy and didn’t identify Community Choice Energy (CCE) as a strategy. In addition, the time frame of 2020 was too short, too many measures were identified as voluntary, and, for the most part, the plan was not enforceable. [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…]

Climate Change Lawsuits and Coastal Plans — Where Does San Diego Stand?

By Stephanie Corkran / SanDiego350
Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on October 27th 2017

Image of San Diego skyline viewed from Coronado, but with Coronado under water from sea level rise

Coronado Island in 2300 if sea level rises by 12 feet; Nickolay Lamm/StorageFront.com, Data: Climate Central

San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo, Marin and Imperial Beach are suing fossil fuel companies over the sea level rise and expected property damages to homes and businesses. The claims cite increased cost of infrastructure, emergency response, coastal flooding and extreme storms. Danger to health and the obstruction of free use of property and free passage of waterways and parks is included.

[Read more…]

2017 People’s Climate March

by Celeste Oram and Mark Hughes

2017 People's Climate March

People marching in San Diego. Photo by Greg Lowe.

On April 29th, 2017, SanDiego350 and partner organizations put on our local version of the People’s Climate March. This march was held last in 2014 and around 1,500 people participated. This year, the goal was to double that number, but that’s not what happened. Instead, the rally and march drew over 5,000 people. A success by any measure, and that was matched by the tens of thousands across the country and across the world who took part in the collective march. There is no doubt our demands on our leaders to respect science in general and climate science in particular, to get in step with nearly all the rest of the world, was heard. Perhaps our voices were even loud enough to break through the walls that separate some people’s alternate worlds from ours. This is critical, because while our collective knowledge makes us powerful, our individual ignorance makes us dangerous. And one day’s march, no matter how many people take part, will not solve the problem. Only sustained presence, sustained demands, will impel our leaders to act on our demands and on the needs of our planet and the life it sustains.

–Mark [Read more…]

Lonely? Try Talking about Cow Flatulence

By Bellamy Dryden

This past Saturday, April 29, I celebrated an important milestone with 5,000 strangers at the Peoples Climate March in downtown San Diego. After that same march in 2014 I adopted a vegan diet, cold turkey, so to speak. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Three years later, I’m healthier and happier.

2017 People's Climate March

2017 People’s Climate March. Photo courtesy of SanDiego350.

What better way to celebrate than with a perfect stranger holding a sign that says “Cow Farts are Destroying the Planet”?

I changed my diet for two reasons. One: it’s an easy and useful way for me to help combat climate change. Two:  it meant that I would never, ever, EVER have to eat a cricket burger with a side of mealworm “fries.”

Why not celebrate such an important day with friends and family? Well, I’m the only environmental vegan in my circle. Besides, my family and friends are far flung, so we use Facebook to keep in touch. The friends and neighbors I see in real life like me just fine, but online, it’s really lonely being the dietary outlier, the green sheep, the tree-hugging vegan. [Read more…]

PRESENT AT THE CREATION

By Ron Bonn, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/20/2017

You could say I was present at the creation.

Looking back in our lives, we rarely know exactly when something started. But regular television news coverage of man-made climate change, with all it implies, started on New Year’s Day, 1970.

Ron Bonn

Ron Bonn, courtesy of the author

The staff of “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite”: producers, writers, technicians; a couple dozen of us in all, were sitting around the newsroom waiting for something to happen—because nothing happens on New Year’s Day—when the man himself stormed in. “Goddamn it,” he said to us, “we’ve got to do something about this environment story.”

You might guess that when Walter Cronkite said, “Goddamn it,” things happened at CBS News. And what happened is that I, the science producer for “The Evening News,” was detached for eight weeks to “do something” about this environment story. Never before, to my knowledge, had a network spot news program paid that much attention to a non-breaking story. [Read more…]

SECURITY & CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE REVEALS DISTURBING ATTITUDE SHIFT

By Mark Hughes, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the East County Magazine on 3/5/2017)

On February 21, 2017, an audience of approximately 75 attended the Security & Climate Change: Issues and Perspectives conference, held in the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. Organized and funded by The Center for Climate and Security (with the support of The San Diego Foundation and Skoll Global Threats Fund). The program focused on the threat climate change imposes on world stability, the burden it puts on the US military, and what they, as well as our local and state governments, are doing to plan for the consequences. The conference was followed by a screening of a new documentary entitled “The Age of Consequences.”

Veteran's Museum

Veterans Museum in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy of the author.

The Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, started the conference by noting that the city has been diligently working toward sustainability. Evidence of that effort, to name only two, include the city’s enforceable Climate Action Plan (CAP) as well as the largest water recycling effort in the western hemisphere. These projects could not be done without the close cooperation of the military based here (1 in 6 of the Navy’s personnel reside in San Diego, 1 in 4 of the Marines). San Diego, he said, sets the bar, leads the way toward positive, innovative change. [Read more…]