California’s Push For Clean Energy Is Paying Off

By David Hochschild and Matthew Freedman

This week, the Supreme Court made the unfortunate decision to temporarily block President Barack Obama's clean-energy plan. Many of the arguments made against it have also been made against California's clean energy policies.

The state's new landmark clean-energy law took effect this month, ensuring that at least 50 percent of the electricity powering our state comes from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2030. This policy strengthens California’s position as a global leader on clean energy and flips the script to make renewable energy “mainstream” and fossil fuels the “alternative.”

Since California first established clean-energy requirements 15 years ago, critics have argued that, in addition to being unachievable, aggressive renewable energy goals would destabilize the power grid, eliminate jobs and hurt ratepayers.

Today, California produces more renewable energy than any other state in the nation and the major utilities are on track to meet and exceed their targets in the coming years. We are now in a good position to evaluate these claims.

The verdict on grid stability and jobs is clear. California has not had rolling blackouts caused by renewable energy and maintains a healthy surplus of reserves to meet peak electricity demand. As for the economy, since 2010, California’s unemployment rate has been cut in half while the amount of renewable energy produced has nearly doubled. More Californians now work in the renewable energy industry than at all 46 of the state's public and private electric utilities combined.

This is an excerpt from commentary that was originally published in The Sacramento Bee on February 11, 2016. Read the full commentary here.

David Hochschild is a commissioner at the California Energy Commission. Matthew Freedman is a staff attorney at TURN, an independent ratepayer advocacy group.

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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