California Adopts Nation’s Most Aggressive Renewable Energy Standard

On September 23, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) took a significant step toward achieving the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals of its landmark Global Warming Solution Act, or AB 32 as it is more commonly known. AB 32 calls for a reduction of GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The new standard calls for 33% of electricity sold in California in 2020 to come from clean sources of energy such as solar and wind facilities. CARB estimates that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about the equivalent of 12 to 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in 2020.

California’s energy already comes largely from hydroelectric and natural gas combustion, which produce much lower GHG emissions than the coal-fired power plants that provide energy to most of the country. Even with this advantage, the California standard is significantly more stringent than the recently proposed Senate bill calling for 15% renewable power by 2021. Passage of The Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 (S. 3813) introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is considered a long-shot during this session.