Sammy Roth, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Something remarkable happened over the weekend: California hit nearly 95% renewable energy.
I’ll say it again: 95% renewables. For all the time we spend talking about how to reach 100% clean power, it sometimes seems like a faraway proposition, whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 target or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies came within a stone’s throw of getting there.
There are several caveats. For one thing, Saturday’s 94.5% figure — a record, as confirmed to me by the California Independent System Operator — was fleeting, lasting just four seconds. It was specific to the state’s main power grid, which covers four-fifths of California but doesn’t include Los Angeles, Sacramento and several other regions. It came at a time of year defined by abundant sunshine and relatively cool weather, meaning it’s easier for renewable power to do the job traditionally done by fossil fuels.
And fossil fuels actually were doing part of the job — more than the 94.5% figure might suggest. California was producing enough clean power to supply nearly 95% of its in-state needs, but it was also burning a bunch of natural gas and exporting electricity to its Western neighbors. It’s impossible to say exactly how much of the Golden State’s own supply was coming from renewables.
That said, what happened on Saturday is definitely a big deal.
“It sends chills down my spine. It’s amazing,” said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s main power grid. “These types of transitions aren’t always pretty. But we’re getting a lot of renewable generation online, making a real dent in the state’s carbon emissions.”
Read more at https://www.latimes.com/environment/newsletter/2021-04-29/solar-power-water-canals-california-climate-change-boiling-point?utm_id=28229&sfmc_id=3422102
Cuneyt Dil, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Over the objections of environmentalists, California regulators approved a proposal Thursday to allow builders to construct homes without solar panels, a decision critics said undercuts California’s seven-week-old law that all new houses have their own solar power.
At a passionate hearing, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s plan to build its own large-scale solar site that homeowners can tap into, forgoing the need for solar on each new home.
Environmentalists said it guts the state’s new landmark mandate and will lead to other statewide proposals copying Sacramento’s utility, which serves 1.5 million residents. But regulators backed the proposal after support from home builders and lawmakers who said it provides clean energy without raising home prices in a state facing a housing crisis.
“This is something that is bold and cutting edge,” Commissioner Janea Scott said of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s application.
The mandate that took effect Jan. 1 calls for new single-family houses or low-rise apartments to install solar panels. Alternately, utilities and organizations can apply to the California Energy Commission to build an offsite “community shared solar” site for buildings to draw from.
Using the latter option, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s plan sets a blueprint for private and public entities to seek their own large solar sites to meet the mandate, watchers say. The largest public utility in the U.S. — the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power — endorsed the idea in filings to the commission.
Public testimony ran for two hours at the commission meeting Thursday. Environmentalists and some homeowners said the move means fewer homes will be built with solar panels included. Solar advocates said consumers would save more money with their own solar panels rather than the savings from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s proposed plan.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10734660-181/californias-solar-mandate-to-allow