Josh Becker’s climate bills are approved by the Senate | Local News






Josh Becker


A push to electrify buildings and transportation — and ensure the grid is powered by clean energy and can handle the extra load — got a boost this week with a set of bills from the state senator Josh Becker who authorized the Senate.

The San Mateo Democrat has made a pragmatic approach to climate policy a core part of his legislative efforts since being elected in 2020, and the bills, he said, are part of a roadmap to bring the state to net zero carbon emissions by 2045, a goal set by former Governor Jerry Brown in 2018.

“I try to be very measurement-driven in my approach to climate. We produce 420 million metric tons [annually]and we have to get to zero, and we’re currently reducing about 1% a year, so we have to dramatically accelerate that,” he said.

Among his bills, which will still need to be approved by the Assembly and approved by the governor before becoming law, is a rule that would require hourly reports from power producers showing how much clean electricity is produced. It would be a big step up from the currently required annual reports and, according to Becker, an essential first step in reducing production methods using fossil fuels.

“The focus is on electrifying transport and buildings, but you don’t get any benefit from that unless we clean up our network, our network is currently around 50% clean,” he said. .

Transportation accounts for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and residential and commercial buildings are responsible for another 25% when taking into account fossil fuels consumed on-site and electricity demand, according to the California Air Resources Board. A major regional push has been to electrify both sectors by adding electric car charging infrastructure, switching to electric buses and trains, and switching to heaters and electrical appliances in buildings, among other efforts.

But with renewable energy sources like wind and solar often limited in their ability to provide electricity throughout the day and year, and energy storage capacities still limited, s Tapping on green power can be tricky, especially when peak usage times occur when the sun isn’t present. t shines or the wind does not blow. Additionally, utilities often purchase “renewable energy certificates” at the end of the year to offset the burning of fossil fuels, Becker explained.

“With annual accounting, you can be 100% renewable while burning lots of fossil fuels as a utility,” he said. “We need to invest in things like offshore wind, things like long-term storage, things like geothermal.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 1158, would impact the aggregation program of community choices like Peninsula Clean Energy, municipal utilities and those owned by investors like Pacific Gas and Electric. Becker said Peninsula Clean Energy was already a leader in the effort with its plan to provide 100% renewable energy by 2025. But he said he still hadn’t received support from municipal utilities.

“You have deep interests in the energy sector,” he said. “Some of them will be direct opposition.”

Among its other bills, SB 1203 would set a goal for state agencies to achieve net-zero emissions 10 years ahead of the 2045 goal for the state’s economy as a whole. Becker said the goal would help identify challenges ahead of time and compel the state to help steer markets in the right direction.

“If we want to ask the rest of society and all our businesses to be net zero by 2045, government must lead the way,” he said. “It’s also going to show us the challenges and obstacles we’re going to encounter along the way, so that’s the big idea.”

Another bill, SB 1032, aims to accelerate power grid improvements by reducing costs. Becker’s office cited a study that estimates $30 billion in new transmission infrastructure is needed by 2040, which will require a pace of construction “much faster than ever before.” The bill directs the Public Utilities Commission to study options and make recommendations to expedite development and reduce the cost to ratepayers of network expansion.

Two others, SB 1122 and SB 1301, aim to reduce building electrification costs and add tax credits for items such as electric ranges, heat pumps, solar panels or other energy products. clean.

Becker is a member of the Senate’s climate task force, which this week passed a broader package of 12 bills. Chief among them is SB 1020, which sets intermediate goals before 2045. For example, state electricity should be 90% green by 2030 and 95% green by 2035.

‘This is a critical year to make meaningful progress, and part of it is in legislation, but the budget is also a big opportunity,’ he said, pointing to the state’s projected record surplus. . “If we want to reach 100%, that’s what we have to do.”