California has been at the forefront of renewable energy production in the US for many years. Forward thinking politicians like previous governor Arnold Schwarzenegger were the first to create a set of renewable energy goals as part of the official state policy back in 2002.
Current governor Jerry Brown set a goal in 2015 to derive 50% of produced power from renewable energy sources by 2030. But a recent report states that the state’s investor-owned utilities are projected to make this goal by 2020. A full decade ahead of schedule.
Back in 2002, when the first renewable energy strategy was announced, there were cries from opponents stating that these forced changes would increase utility bills for electricity customers and strangle job growth. How wrong could they be.
The opposite happened with a construction job boom in solar power and wind. The cost of solar plummeted from (USD) $136 per MWh in 2008 to $30 MWh today. Wind has also dropped from $97 to $51.
“People want to cast it as a choice between policy or technology as a solution but those should exist hand-in-hand. We would have never gotten renewable energy prices where they are today without really ambitious public policy. It shows the importance of bold goals” – California Gov. Jerry Brown
Now that the goal of 50% is on the horizon, the governor has set a goal of 80% renewables by 2050. With the rate of attaining the 50% goal, who knows how fast they could reach that. But Governor Brown says the next 50% will be harder. With growing demand into the future, balancing the new technologies and fossil fuels during peak demand times will be a challenge. But not impossible.
With an interconnected grid, power can be bought from other regions that can help move towards that goal of 80% or even 100% one day. Buying power from BC and other Hydro electric states could enable the USA’s most populated state move towards that goal.
With California showing the rest of the states how this can be done, how many will make the bold goals and ignore the current federal governments position on renewables and continued support for fossil fuels as the main source of energy production.