California breaks record for renewable electricity

Paul Rogers, The Mercury News on

Published in Business News

California has hit a new milestone in clean energy, as the state continues to move away from fossil fuels in its decades-long effort to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2021, 37% of the state’s electricity was generated by renewable sources like solar and wind — more than double the 16% total in 2012, according to new numbers released Thursday by the California Energy Commission.

More broadly, when nuclear power and hydroelectricity from large dams are included, 59% of California’s electricity now comes from carbon-free sources. The state has a goal of 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2045.

Highlighting the trend, Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared in Richmond on Thursday to cheer the announcement that Moxion Power, a company founded three years ago to build zero-emission electric batteries to replace diesel generators, will open a new manufacturing facility at the site of the former Richmond Ford Point Assembly Plant on Harbour Way. Moxion employs 250 people.

During World War II, the Ford plant built Jeeps, armored personal carriers and other vehicles for the Pacific Theater before closing in the 1950s. The new factory will create about 800 new jobs, the company said.

“The future happens here first,” Newsom said. “We are America’s coming attraction. It is our responsibility to lead. And we do. No other state has more scientists, engineers, more researchers, more Nobel laureates, more patents emanating out of one state than the state of California.”


Over the past 20 years, California has been steadily increasing the amount of solar and wind power it requires utilities to purchase to reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

But the greener power grid has come at a cost: Less reliability.

During severe heat waves, millions of Californians turn on their air conditioners, spiking demand for electricity. At night when the sun begins to set, solar farms go off line, even as demand remains sky high.

That’s what happened last September, when all-time heat records tumbled across California, including 118 degrees in Calistoga, 116 in Livermore and 109 in San Jose.


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