California unions killed the Democrats’ last-minute push to force the state to adopt 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2046, over worries the nation’s highest utility costs are killing jobs.
Governor Jerry Brown and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León were pushing hard to pass SB 100 in the final hours of the legislative session. The bill would require 44 percent of all retail electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by 2024; 52 percent by 2027; 60 percent by 2030; and then 100 percent by 2046.
The Democrat party-line legislation would have accelerated the requirements of SB 350. That legislation, passed in 2015, requires 50 percent of all retail electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by renewables by 2030.
But it appears that the state’s powerful union sector is feeling the heat from its members and employers, angered that energy-rich California now has the “lower 48’s” highest average electric utility rates for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation at 17.55 cents per kilowatt hour. They quietly killed the legislation, which had already passed the State Senate, by making sure it did not come to an Assembly floor vote.
To put a perspective on the current comparative cost burdens that the state’s families and businesses suffered last year, Californians paid 62 percent higher electrical costs than the national average for electricity. But even worse on a regional basis, Californians paid 124 percent more for electricity than residents of Washington State, and 98 percent more than residents of Oregon.
Because energy-rich California used to have electricity costs that were below the 1960 national average of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour, the state was a large electricity exporter.
But under a government-mismanaged deregulation of utilities in the 1990s, the Democrat-controlled legislature demanded the public utilities commission implement a “Long Term Procurement Process.” Rather than encouraging the building of more efficient power plants, the California regulatory scheme prevented building new efficient power plants by forcing utilities to rely on the unreliable availability and predatory prices for imported electricity.
After California suffered a 2000-era energy crisis, the state forced utilities to comply with a Renewables Portfolio Standard in 2002. The movement to renewables started slowly, but since 2010 about 80 percent of new electrical production has come from highly subsidized renewables, according to the Hass Energy Institute at the UC Berkeley Business School.
Proponents of strong renewable standards claim new purchase contracts for renewable energy are only priced “modestly above those for a new conventional natural gas power plant.” But renewables such as solar and wind have intermittent availability. For evenings and whenever the skies are overcast or the wind is calmed, California utilities must pay to have an equivalent percentage of natural gas electrical generation available to offset 100 percent renewable sources.
Breitbart News reported extensively about Governor Brown’s hopscotching around the world to sign climate change agreements with some of the world’s worst polluters, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping.
With only 16 months left before he is termed out of running for governor for a second time, Brown is running out of time to drive up California electrical prices.