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CA Votes to Go 100% Carbon-Free by 2045

Earlier this week, the California Assembly took aggressive steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions as legislators voted to require that 100 percent of the state’s electricity come from carbon-free sources by 2045. If signed into law, California would become the most populous state to go completely green in terms of energy production.

SB 100, authored by State Senator Kevin de León, gradually raises California’s renewable energy target to 60 percent by 2030 with interim targets, and gives the state until 2045 to generate the rest of its electricity from carbon free sources. The California Senate already passed an earlier version of the bill last year, 25 to 13, and the Assembly version now heads back to the Senate for final approval before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

While following in the footsteps of Hawaii, which is the only other state in the country to require all of its energy to come from clean sources, California’s legislation is distinct from Hawaii’s in that it provides leeway to pursue resources beyond just wind and solar. However, it is not yet clear which, if any, the state will incorporate.

California’s existing large hydropower or nuclear power plants, though they produce carbon-free electricity, do not qualify for the state’s renewable portfolio standard laws, which incentivized new investments in wind and solar over the last decade. The new bill’s requirement of zero-carbon resources, though, broadens the scope of what qualifies under state requirements, leaving an opening for new technologies that may arise in the years to come.

California has long been considered a leader on environmental issues, including imposing stringent fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles that have made it a de facto auto regulator, and requiring solar to be installed on new housing construction. If signed into law, California would again be a bellwether for the sector, forging a path for transitioning to completely carbon-free energy on a mass scale. 

© 2020 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 243


About this Author

Legal, Business, Jeffery Atkin, Foley Lardner, Environmental Attorney

Jeffery R. Atkin is a partner and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. His areas of practice cover a broad range of business and financial matters, including renewable energy, project finance, private placements, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, real estate development and equipment procurement and leasing. Mr. Atkin is chair of the Solar Energy Team, co-chair of the Energy Industry Team, and a member of the Latin America Practice.

Mr. Atkin’s experience in renewable energy and project finance includes representing developers,...

Jason N. Barglow, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Los Angeles, Development Permitting Lawyer, alternative energy projects attorney

Jason Barglow is a partner and real estate and corporate lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, and vice chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice. He is also a member of the Transactional & Securities Practice and the Energy Industry Team. Mr. Barglow’s real estate practice includes advising clients with respect to all types of commercial and residential real estate transactions and issues, including acquisitions, dispositions, land use, construction, lending and finance, development and leasing. His practice also includes advising clients on all manner of real estate issues arising in connection with the financing, construction and development of alternative energy projects, including acquisition of site and development rights and permitting and entitlement issues. 

Mr. Barglow's transactional practice includes mergers and acquisitions (across a wide range of industries), commercial lending, federal and state securities law compliance for public and private companies, ongoing reporting and disclosure obligations for public companies, equity and debt offerings for public and private companies, advising clients on corporate governance issues, and general corporate representation of both for-profit and nonprofit entities.

In February 2014, Mr. Barglow spoke at the Infocast Solar Power Finance Summit and Investment Conference in San Diego. He moderated the panel, “Real World Aspects of Doing a Deal”. Also in February 2014, he served as a guest lecturer for a class at Loyola Law School on alternative energy development and project finance.

Mr. Barglow was selected for inclusion in the 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Southern California Super Lawyers-Rising Stars® lists. He was also recognized by The Legal 500 for his work in the area of energy – renewable/alternative in 2013, 2014 and 2015, for his work in the area of real estate in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and for his work in the area of finance – project finance in 2015 and 2016.

Mr. Barglow earned his J.D. in 2001 from the University of Southern California, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif. He graduated with a B.A. from the University of California – San Diego in 1997.

Justus Britt, Solar Energy Project Attorney, Foley Lardner Law Firm

Justus Britt is a business lawyer and special counsel with Foley & Lardner LLP. Mr. Britt focuses on the development and acquisition of solar energy projects. His project development experience includes advising clients on real estate, permitting, and construction matters, including negotiating supply, EPC, and O&M agreements. Mr. Britt’s acquisition experience includes leading due diligence efforts and assisting on stock and asset purchase agreements, as well as joint venture agreements. He is a member of the firm’s Energy Industry Team and the Transactional...