SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Flying in the face of the Trump administration’s recommitment to fossil fuels, California Democrats on Tuesday introduced “the world’s most ambitious” energy goal and announced plans for the state’s utilities to be completely reliant on clean energy by 2045.
Standing in front of the nation’s largest college solar-power plant at the University of California, Davis, lawmakers and solar-power industry leaders touted the environmental and economic benefits of turning the Golden State green with renewable energy. Their plan would require utilities to incrementally abandon coal and natural gas production and sell only renewable or zero-carbon electricity by 2045.
“It’s the most ambitious target in the world,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles. “Especially for an economy that dwarfs all but a handful of nations.”
The legislation builds on recently passed clean-energy goals and speeds up the state’s commitment to buying and using energy generated from mostly wind and solar sources. Senate Bill 100 would require 50 percent of retail electricity sold to be from renewable sources by 2026, 60 percent by 2030 and finally 100 percent by December 31, 2045.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said the progressive plan shouldn’t come as a surprise considering California’s penchant for passing climate and clean-energy policies.
“We are not going to allow drilling off our shores, we have been there and we have done that,” Jackson said. “It’s 2017, and going forward we are going to commit to a leaner, greener and cleaner environment and world ahead.”
The state senators said weaning California off fossil fuels benefits not just the environment, but the state’s economy as well. California’s renewable-energy sector, including solar and wind, employs more than 500,000 Californians.
Tom Werner, president of SunPower Corporation which was founded at Stanford University, said his company has ridden the wave of green energy out of California and now employs more than 8,000 people worldwide.
“I can tell you the world is watching; 100 percent renewable is about jobs,” Werner said.
The proposal comes as the Trump administration continues to roll back and review environmental rules cemented by previous administrations.
In February, Trump jumpstarted progress on the contested Dakota Access oil pipeline and lifted a rule that protected streams from coal mining waste. Weeks later, the administration approved a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and ended a freeze of new coal leases on public lands.
De Leon said California will push forward with its clean-energy principles regardless of the administration’s effort to revive U.S. coal and oil production.
“Make no mistake, this is a landmark proposal but it’s also a measured approach that ensures that we have a flexible and reliable grid,” De Leon said of the commitment to clean energy.
De Leon’s proposal also directs the state’s Public Utilities Commission to require gas sellers to procure a minimum amount of gas from biomethane or renewable sources and replace their heavy-duty transportation vehicle fleets with near zero-emission vehicles.
SB 100 requires a majority vote and will be taken up first in the Senate Rules Committee later this month.