California Will Get Half its Electricity From Renewables by 2020

Finally some good news for climate change.

California Coastline along State Road 1Robert Bohrer/Shutterstock

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The US fight against climate change hasn’t exactly made much progress recently. Just this week, for instance, the Trump administration spent its time at the UN conference on climate change in Bonn praising the benefits of coal. But there is actually one bit of good news. A report released Monday from the California Public Utilities Commission shows that the state will get half of its electricity from renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, very soon—by 2020, to be exact, a full decade ahead of schedule.

“We don’t want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse. “California is all in.”

In late 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation regulating the state’s energy sources—setting a 2030 deadline to get half of the state’s electricity from renewables. What he didn’t expect was that last year, each of the state’s three largest utility companies (known as investor-owned utilities, or IOUs) would exceed the intermediate goal of achieving 25 percent renewable energy by 2016. California’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), alone sourced nearly 33 percent of its electricity demand from renewable sources, including solar, wind, and geothermal energy.

“We don’t want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse,” Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday from Bonn, where he was attending the climate talks. “California is all in.”

In the past two years, California’s law sparked a wave of new solar power plants and wind farms across the state. As a result, the price of solar energy dropped, according to the report, by 77 percent between 2010 and 2016, from $127.55 per megawatt-hour to $29.17 per megawatt-hour. Similarly, the price of wind dropped by 47 percent in the same time period. “We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil—oil and gas, to a lesser extent, coal,” Brown said back in 2015. “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

California isn’t the only state setting local renewable energy targets. In fact, 29 states have adopted renewable energy portfolio plans so far, though few are as ambitious as California’s. Illinois, for example, has pledged to reach 25 percent renewable energy by 2025-2026, Hawaii has pledged to reach 100 percent renewable electricity  by 2045, and Vermont is aiming to reach 75 percent renewable power by 2032.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate