State Senate Leader Calls for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2045

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León wants California to be running on 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Californians could be getting all of their electricity from renewable energy sources within the next 30 years under new legislation from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

The bill -- an amended version of SB 100 -- calls for the state to receive 60 percent of its power from renewables like solar and wind by 2030 on its way to 100 percent clean energy production by 2045.

"It's the most ambitious target in the world," de León said at a Tuesday news conference at a solar power plant on the UC Davis campus, "especially for an economy that dwarfs all but a handful of nations."

SB 100 would build on SB 350, passed in 2015, which set a goal of 50 percent renewable energy production by 2030.

The ambitious goal would require the state to wean itself from natural gas, which is not considered a renewable energy source and is currently the top source of electricity in California.

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State Senate Leader Calls for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2045

State Senate Leader Calls for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2045

De León said that capturing uncontrolled methane emissions from dairies, landfills and wastewater treatment plants would help replace power currently derived from natural gas, but he didn't say how exactly natural gas would be phased out of the equation.

"We want to make sure when we phase down, we phase down to renewable, which is healthy for our planet," de León said. "We'll be engaging still with the natural gas folks, but that's really all I can say about that part."

PG&E, one of those "natural gas folks" de León mentioned, isn’t completely sold on the new goal.

"We believe the state should move away from additional procurement mandates and instead establish broader clean energy goals with a focus on greenhouse gas emissions reductions providing opportunities for the market to work in the most cost-effective manner without compromising reliability," said Lynsey Paulo, a spokeswoman for PG&E, which provides natural gas and electricity to approximately 16 million people in Northern and Central California.

Paulo said PG&E is still reviewing the proposal, but believes more attention should be paid to extending the state's cap-and-trade program instead of increasing clean energy source requirements like SB 100 would.

That didn't stop de León and the other politicians, clean energy executives and union leaders assembled from enumerating the extensive economic benefits they think will come from SB 100.

"These renewable energy jobs are real jobs," said Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, which represents 450,000 construction workers in the state. "People really don't see them because they're in the middle of nowhere, but we have tens of thousands of construction workers every day working on these projects."

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) compared this to another ambitious goal set by an American politician: when President John F. Kennedy said the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

"People thought he was crazy, and yet, we did that," Jackson said. "And if we can do that, we can do this."

This post has been updated.