Half of California’s Energy Could Come From Renewables in 3 Years, But Trump Keeps Pushing Coal and Nuclear

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO – Half of California’s electricity will likely come from clean, renewable energy sources by 2020, a full decade ahead of the goal set just two years ago. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is pushing a scheme to force Americans to pay above-market prices for dirty and dangerous coal plants and nuclear reactors.

This week the California Public Utilities Commission projected that the state is on track to hit 50 percent renewable energy in three years. In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the most sweeping climate change legislation in the country. The law requires that at least a third of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020, reaching 50 percent by 2030.

But on Monday, the utilities commission reported that, collectively, the state’s three biggest electricity companies should hit the 50 percent milestone by the beginning of the next decade.  Some of the individual companies may fall short, the overall goal is well in sight.

As of 2017, here’s the share of electricity from renewables for the three big utilities.

  • Southern California Edison: 28.2%
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Co.: 32.9%
  • San Diego Gas and Electric: 43.2%

The report also highlights the significant drop in costs for renewable energy. Between 2008 and 2016, the cost of utility solar contracts has fallen by more than three-fourths, and the cost of wind contracts by almost half. 

“The vision of California’s elected leaders and the enthusiastic adoption of renewables by its citizens and businesses are blazing the path forward for the rest of the country,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group and a California resident. “They have fully embraced the future of energy in the U.S., and it’s cheaper, cleaner renewables – not dying, dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear power.”

The vision put forth from Sacramento is not shared 2,734 miles away at the White House.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to fast-track consideration of his proposal to make utility customers in many parts of the country buy electricity from aging coal and nuclear plants, even when cheaper sources are available. The ploy is part of President Trump’s plan to prop up the coal industry, whose executives were among Trump’s most vocal supporters and most generous campaign donors in 2016.

A new report from EWG shows that President Trump’s proposal to save the coal industry does not align with the realities facing the country’s energy sector. According to federal government data compiled by EWG, utilities nationwide plan to close 75 coal and nuclear units by 2020 – just when California is projected to reach its ambitious renewable energy goal.

“President Trump insists on trying to drive the nation’s energy policy in reverse, backing losers like coal against renewables, which are clearly winning the competition,” added Cook. “It’s 2017, but Trump and Perry are trying to keep alive energy industry artifacts from the Eisenhower era.” 

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