Powering the most populous and prosperous state in the country on 100% carbon-free electricity is bold and achievable. SB 100 would accelerate the state’s current RPS program to 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030. In addition, SB 100 sets a 100% clean, zero carbon, and renewable energy policy for California’s electricity system by 2045. It further requires state agencies regulating energy, clean air, and climate to implement the policy in all proceedings authorized under law.
The state is on track to exceed its current 50 percent Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement, technology is already available to help the grid run on very large quantities of renewables, and the cost of investments needed to make this happen are coming down.
Many factors affect utility bills. Costs associated with electricity generation is one key component; even now, clean renewable and zero-carbon energy like solar and wind energy are cheaper than natural gas, coal, nuclear, or almost any other option. So we know that at least that component of utility bills will go down as a result of SB 100.
Of course costs of transmission, distribution, and programs utilities run in the public interest such as energy research and low-income energy assistance, and other factors affect our utility bills as well.
Relying on larger amounts of carbon-free resources will reduce California electricity customer exposure to the price volatility of natural gas.
Due to California’s low electricity consumption per capita (because of strong energy efficiency policies), the state’s monthly electric bills are among the lowest in the nation.
Most importantly, SB 100 includes language that allows the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission to waive certain compliance requirements for the state’s utilities under a narrow set of circumstances, such as, for example, if meeting those requirements is not technically feasible or is too costly.
The price of natural gas is affected by supply, demand, the cost of acquiring electricity from outside California, and other factors. As noted above, clean energy is now cheaper than gas – and will ultimately replace natural gas generation as a source of electricity.
Existing nuclear power in CA has been shuttered (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego County) or is being phased out (Diablo Canyon Nuclear Generating Facility in San Luis Obispo County). No new nuclear power plants are proposed in the state at this time.
California already gets about 10% of its electricity from large hydropower, and to the extent EXISTING hydroelectric power is zero-carbon and does not result in resource shuffling or increases in greenhouse gas emissions, it counts towards the 100% clean, zero carbon energy requirement. This is primarily because existing hydro that is already used to serve California electricity needs is cheaper for ratepayers, and is already built with costs accounted for in electric bills.
In general, SB 100 will help make the grid more efficient and less expensive by ensuring the cheapest/cleanest resources are used for generation and the grid is expanded to accommodate them efficiently.
The grid is constantly changing to accommodate the retirement of older generation resources that are past their useful life and investment in new technologies such as rooftop solar, energy storage, and devices that help us save more energy and shift it to time periods when more clean energy supplies are abundant.
SB 100 requires that at least 60% of electricity be generated for CA by 2030 from “eligible renewable energy resources (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro, renewable methane, ocean wave or thermal, or fuel cells using renewable fuels).
The remaining 40% can come from any of those resources, plus existing large hydro and any other zero-carbon polluting resources. This latter provision leaves the door open to new technologies we may not know about today that could meet future state needs while protecting the environment.
The Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a law (Public Utilities Code Article 15 (commencing with Section 399.11 et seq)) that requires retail sellers of electricity (Investor–owned utilities or IOUs, Publicly owned utilities or POUs, Community Choice Aggregation programs or CCAs, and Electric Service Providers or ESPs) to procure increasing amounts of renewable energy over time in order to displace fossil fuels or other generation, and to increase jobs, investment, and clean energy used by CA customers. RPS-eligible resources are: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, renewable methane, small hydro, ocean wave or tidal, or fuel cells using renewable fuels.
SB 100 updates the RPS to ensure that by 2030, at least 60 percent of purchased electricity in California will be from renewable sources. Between 2030 and 2045, at least 60 percent must be from renewable sources, but other carbon-free sources, such as large hydroelectric dams (power considered clean but not “renewable”) may also count toward achieving 100 percent clean electricity.