California, is Moving to 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity and Glendale’s Water & Power Will Be Part of It.

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By FRANK GALLO

On September 10, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed SB 100, the bill that will make California the second state in the nation with a deadline to move to 100% zero-carbon electricity.

SB 100 will require the State to have zero-carbon sources of electricity by 2045. The bill was introduced by Former Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) in January of last year. “This was a labor of love from both houses,” stated De Leon at the signing ceremony.

SB 100 is quite simple and it enjoys broad support (from almost everyone except a few energy-intensive industries like agriculture and petroleum). The bill contained enough substance to matter, but not too many things that everyone found something to hate.

A great deal of its appeal comes from its flexibility. SB 100 actually sets three targets for California:

• 50 percent renewables by 2026
• 60 percent renewables by 2030
• 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045

The targets have never been super ambitious as some in the fossil fuel industry said. They have actually been quite conservative, and follow the trajectory that utilities are already on. That’s why they have been so easy to meet.

California was not the first state to pass a renewable energy mandate. Iowa’s Alternative Energy Law began requiring that utilities procure renewable energy in 1983 and it wasn’t until two decades later that California implemented it RPS, initially requiring 20% renewable energy by 2010.

“California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of Climate Change,” stated Governor Brown. “California has been doing things that the rest of the world hopes it will do some day.”

By setting a 100% by 2045 target, California now has tied with Hawaii for the most aggressive zero-carbon electricity policy in the nation – although unlike SB 100 Hawaii’s mandate is a standard RPS. The only state with a target anywhere near that ambitious is Vermont, which is calling for 75% by 2032.

If the past is any guide, this will not be the last word from the legislature on clean energy and it is very likely that over the next years lawmakers will try to tighten the screws even more on utilities to get off of fossil fuels.

As for Glendale, this means that any new power generation the City invests in today will have to include a large portion of clean energy. The reason for that is quite simple; the financial model used to pay for these types of capital improvements is based on 30 year bonds, which means that by not using enough clean energy in the repowering of Grayson we might find ourselves paying for obsolete technology.

As of now Glendale Water & Power (GWP) is reviewing 34 proposals for clean energy to repower Grayson. GWP seems to have a healthy mix of proposals on solar (utility-scale and distributed), storage (mostly battery systems), and energy efficiency (one of the cheapest ways to meet our needs).

The utility indicates that it would take them up to two months to review the proposals before presenting them to City Council. Unfortunately, GWP did not invite the community or the Glendale Environmental Coalition to provide input on the proposals. In any case, the impact of this legislation would be reflected on the repowering of Grayson, Glendale’s Power plant.

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Post Author: Glendale City