California Aims to Kick Coal-Fired Electricity Habit by 2026

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Hoping to cement California’s “global role” on climate-change policy and push it toward cleaner energy, a state lawmaker wants to bar electric utilities from buying and selling coal-generated energy by 2026.

Bay Area Democrat Marc Levine’s clean-energy proposal would require California electricity providers to stop procuring coal-fired energy incrementally, and end the use of coal entirely by 2026.

Levine says Assembly Bill 79 is an extension of California’s efforts under Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and expand its policies to fight climate change.

“AB 79 expands the frontlines of California’s efforts to reverse the impacts of climate change, reduce ocean acidification and ensure we have clean air to breathe,” Levine, D-Marin County, said in a statement.

Under Levine’s climate-change bill, a maximum of 6 percent of electricity used in California could be coal-generated by 2018. That figure drops to 3 percent by 2024 before eventually being phased out completely in 2026.

The proposal was inspired by a recent California Energy Commission report that called for the state to taper off and eliminate its dependency on coal-generated energy by 2026. The report found that California’s reliance on coal-fired electricity has steadily declined since 1996, and that it uses less than most other states.

Levine says AB 79 will codify the commission’s recommendation and task regulators with requiring utilities to buy and sell cleaner energy.

While California and many other states have moved off coal-generated energy, states like Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio and Colorado still get more than half their electricity from coal-generated sources, according to the commission report.

Tapering California’s carbon emissions has become a major policy focus during Brown’s fourth and final term. He’s approved a variety of stringent climate-change and renewable-energy laws, including a 2016 bill that committed California to the nation’s strictest greenhouse gas laws through 2030.

Polls have also shown that Californians don’t mind paying more for clean energy. According to a 2016 Public Policy Institute of California survey, 59 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for energy to combat global warming.

Levine’s bill is waiting to be assigned to its first Assembly policy committee and can’t be heard until Feb. 4.


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