California Gov. Newsom pushes for greener energy amid record wildfires

In a move hailed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans this month to fast-track the state’s transition to clean energy, in direct response to record heat and fires largely considered tied to climate change.

“California is in the midst of an existential climate crisis,” Newsom said during a visit to the burning Butte County. “It was just two years ago that this area saw the deadliest wildfire in our history. Now, just a few miles away, another deadly wildfire has ripped through these same communities. There is no doubt – climate change is here, and it is happening faster than most had anticipated.”

So far, California has legally fought to continue its ability to regulate vehicle emissions against federal intervention, demanded all new trucks sold in-state to be zero-emission by 2045 and worked to accelerate truck electrification, sought to reform the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) to promote tighter fracking permit review processes and regulations, and launched a public process to aid the transition to entirely carbon-free electricity by 2045, as called for by SB 100 of 2018.

However, last week, Newsom declared that 2045 would be too late and called for accelerating the application and implementation of the state’s commitments.

“While California balances on a knife edge when it comes to climate impact, our state is leading the world in turning our climate resolve into results,” Newsom said. “We aren’t just making bold promises – we are using our economic strength and innovation to lead the nation and the world towards a greener future. As the events of the last month have shown us, that work has to move faster, too.”

The AWEA, under director Danielle Osborn Mills, lauded the move while recognizing that coordination would be needed to make it successful.

“Renewable energy providers are heartened by Governor Newsom’s pledge today to accelerate the state’s transition to 100% clean energy,” Mills said. “The heatwaves, fires, and power outages of the past month have highlighted the urgent need to quickly transition to a renewable energy system—but more and more experts are recognizing that the state is falling behind when it comes to achieving this goal.”

She also pointed to the SB 100 Joint Agency Report to identify the gaps in achieving that goal.

“California is going to need to double its current renewable energy capacity in the next seven years and build roughly 3 GW of solar, wind, and storage every year for the next 25 years to achieve its renewable targets,” Mills said.

To do so, Mills calls for quick moves to tap reliable, renewable resources: the more than 15 GW of wind potential in mountain states and another 25 GW of wind potential about 25 miles offshore.

Chris Galford

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