Governor Brown Signs SB 100 Making Carbon Free Energy Mandatory by 2045

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At a press conference that included speeches from State Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and author State Senator Kevin De León, Governor Brown signed SB 100 into law today.  SB 100 amends the Renewable Portfolio Standard Program (RPS) targets for 2030 and makes the policy of California that electric utilities supply 100% of retail sales from renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources by 2045.

SB 100 amends the RPS from 50% by 2030 to 50% by 2026 and 60% by 2030. This requires retail sellers and local publicly owned electric utilities to procure a minimum quantity of eligible renewable energy resources that equal total kilowatt hours sold to retail-customers of 44% by December 31, 2024, 52% by December 31, 2027, and 60% by December 31, 2030.

The greater challenge for the state is meeting the 100% renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resource supply policy by 2045. Specifically, SB 100 adds Public Utilities Code Section 454.53 stating:

“It is the policy of the state that eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources supply 100 percent of all retail sales of electricity to California end-use customers and 100 percent of electricity procured to serve all state agencies by December 31, 2045. The achievement of this policy for California shall not increase carbon emissions elsewhere in the western grid and shall not allow resource shuffling. The commission and Energy Commission, in consultation with the State Air Resources Board, shall take steps to ensure that a transition to a zero-carbon electric system for the State of California does not cause or contribute to greenhouse gas emissions increases elsewhere in the western grid, and is undertaken in a manner consistent with clause 3 of Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution. The commission, the Energy Commission, the State Air Resources Board, and all other state agencies shall incorporate this policy into all relevant planning.”

The language directs all state agencies to ensure this policy:

  • maintains and protects the safety, reliable operation, and balancing of the electric system;
  • prevents unreasonable impacts to electricity, gas, and water customer rates and bills resulting from implementation while accounting for economic and environmental costs and benefits for the policy;
  • to the extent feasible and legally authorized, leads to policies and actions in other sectors to reduce GHG emission that ensure equity between other sectors and the electric sector; and
  • does not affect the rules and requirements for RPS oversight and enforcement.

The bill further authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission (CEC), California Energy Commission (CEC), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) to utilize programs authorized under existing law and to report to the Legislature by January 1, 2021, and every four years after, regarding implementation of the policy, as defined.  Finally, the Legislature explicitly states that this bill does not affect a retail seller’s obligation to comply with the Federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). Many question remain as to how California will achieve the additional 40% of carbon free electricity not mandated under the RPS to completely decarbonize its electric grid

SB 100 also revises the RPS exception for publicly owned electric utilities related to hydroelectric generation.  The amendment states that the RPS specific minimum quantity procurement requirement applies only to the electricity demand unsatisfied by its hydroelectric generation in any year where the utility receives greater than 67% (changed from 50%) of its electricity sources from hydroelectric generation located within the states that the public electric utility owns and operates. These facilities must be owned prior to January 1, 2018 by the public electric utility.  Additionally, if during a compliance year that local publicly owned electric utility receives more than 40% of its retail sales from large hydroelectric generation, as defined, under an ownership agreement or contract effective as of January 1, 2018, the utility is then required to procure the lesser of the following for that year:

  • portion of retail sales unsatisfied by the local publicly owned electric utility’s large hydroelectric generation; or
  • the soft target adopted by the California Energy Commission for the intervening years of the relevant RPS compliance period.

SB 100 makes California the second state to pass legislation that seeks to completely decarbonize its electric system.  SB 100 differs from Hawaii’s HB 623 (2015) in that HB 623 mandates a 100% RPS as the mechanism to decarbonize while California relies on its RPS to supply 60% of its retail sales with renewable energy and leaves open how to supply the other 40%.  SB 100 authorizes flexibility to use all current and future resources to achieve the policy target over the next 26 years.  Compliance may include combining existing non-RPS eligible resources, such as large hydroelectric facilities and nuclear generation, as well as a regulatory authorized expanded RPS or other program or technology (energy storage, microgrids, distributed generation, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, etc) to achieve complete decarbonization.

 

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About Joe Kaatz

Staff Attorney at the Energy Policy Initiatives Center, University of San Diego School of Law.
This entry was posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas, Legislation, Renewable Energy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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