Stuff that matters

Clean sweep

California may use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2020, a decade ahead of schedule.

While Trump tries to push the United States back toward fossil fuels, California, the seventh largest economy in the world, is embracing clean energy with better economic results.

More than a quarter of California’s electricity already comes from renewables, according to a report from the state’s Public Utilities Commission. That’s particularly impressive because California doesn’t count large hydropower dams or nuclear power in its definition of “renewable.” Add those, and the state is currently running on 45 percent clean energy.


The state’s three biggest investor-owned utilities are forecast to reach the 50 percent renewable goal in just three years.

So how did California do it? After the state told utilities they had to get more electricity from renewables — beginning in 2002 and ratcheting up with new laws in 2006, 2011, and 2015 — it triggered a building spree of wind and solar plants.

A boom in renewable-electricity generation. California Public Utilities Commission

Perhaps the only downside from the report is that, because the big utilities are on track to meet their goals, they’ve stopped investing as much in renewables. But it looks like California is getting ready to set higher goals again.