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California Adopts 2045 Deadline for 100% Carbon-Free Power, Speeds Up EV Deployment

California legislators voted this week to adopt a 100% carbon-free electricity target for 2045 and accelerate electric vehicle deployment across the state.

The 100% carbon free bill “now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature,” InsideClimate News reports. “Brown hasn’t commented on it, but is widely expected to sign the legislation as one of the crowning environmental achievements of his administration, which ends in January.”

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“After a grueling year it has finally passed,” tweeted the bill’s sponsor, Los Angeles state Sen. Kevin de Léon. “Our state will remain a climate change leader.”

“While Trump is taking the nation backwards by deregulating and subsidizing the coal, oil, and natural gas industries in DC, California is rolling up its sleeves to build bold climate protections,” said Earthjustice lawyer Paul Cort, who led the California Right to Zero campaign.

“Victory for humankind and science-based 100% roadmaps,” tweeted Stanford University low-carbon modeler Mark Z. Jacobson.

Hawaii became the first U.S. to state to adopt a 100% carbon-free electricity target in 2015, and California already had one of the strongest clean energy mandates in the U.S.  “But as the most populous state and the fifth-largest economy in the world, California’s decision would be a landmark in the global effort to drive down carbon emissions,” InsideClimate notes. “The carbon-free electricity commitment will also help California meet its ambitious goals of putting 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2025, and five million by 2030.”

ICN connects the legislative vote to the climate impacts California has seen this year, and a comprehensive assessment published earlier this week that pointed to the severe impacts the state will face if climate change is not brought under control.

The business group Advanced Energy Economy applauded the unanimous, 38-0 Senate vote and near-unanimous, 76-1 Assembly decision that accelerated the state’s deployment of zero-emission vehicles. It said the bill’s author, Assemblymember Phil Ting, “worked closely with AEE and its members for over two years on legislation designed to promote zero-emission vehicles by enabling better planning for charging infrastructure,” with “build-out statewide and across all vehicle classes.”

Bloomberg notes that the 100% RE legislation constitutes a “big bet” that battery storage costs will continue to fall.

California would need to install more than 200 times as much energy storage capacity as it has now to make up for the loss of gas plants,” the news agency reports, citing analysis by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force. “Gas plants both provide steady power output and can react quickly when there are supply constraints. The availability of renewables can be intermittent, making the ability to store power key.