In this Wednesday file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference in Sacramento A week after Southern California’s largest water agency abandoned a plan to pay for much of the state’s ambitious water project, the funding proposal will be debated again. On Monday Brown sent a letter urging the Metropolitan Water District board to back a two-tunnel plan, which he’s been supporting for years. – Rich Pedroncelli — The Associated Press file
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Brown signed both a bill calling for 100 percent renewable energy and an executive order guaranteeing zero emissions by 2045. (The Associated Press)

All of California’s electricity must come from renewable energy resources by 2045, according to a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday to emphasize the state’s commitment to clean energy.

Senate Bill 100 puts California on an even faster track to being fully green-powered than it already was, ramping up the expectations on the state’s utilities companies to use renewable resources.

“California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said Monday in his SB 100 signing message. “This bill, and others I will sign this week, help us go in that direction. But have no illusions, California and the rest of the world have miles to go before we achieve zero-carbon emissions.”

Brown’s signing positions the state, once again, as a standout in terms of environmental policy.

“It puts us on a good path forward,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Our energy sector is the largest source of greenhouse emissions. SB 100 is consistent with what the state has been doing for over a decade now. For that, it’s a fantastic victory. It puts more teeth into things than some our previous commitments.”

“More teeth,” in this case, will mean requiring utilities companies to implement clean energy practices sooner and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate. The faster the better, Wheeler said, noting the state could always be moving at an even greater pace toward environmentally friendly practices.

But adjusting to the state’s ambitious goals could mean risking the reliability of the power grid and passing certain burdens to regular Californians, the utilities companies argued during the bill’s path through the state legislature.

“If it’s not affordable, it’s not sustainable,” said Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Lynsey Paulo in an emailed statement. “We believe customers must be protected from unreasonable rate and bill impacts and that any new policies must treat all electricity providers to the same planning and procurement requirements under the new policy.”

Paulo emphasized PG&E is already a “national leader” in clean energy. In 2017, she said, the company delivered 33 percent of its energy from renewable resources, three years before the target date set by legislators.

Locally, the bill’s signing comes at a coincidental time: on the table for the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting is a resolution to push the county toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Supervisor Mike Wilson will push the resolution, which would explicitly align the county with ideals set forth by the international Paris Agreement on climate change.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond. It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done,” Brown said in a statement.

President Donald Trump notably announced his intent to back out of the agreement last June.

In addition signing SB 100, Brown also penned an executive order mandating California also be totally emissions-free by 2045. Starting from the year afterward, the state will be expected to go into the negative, emissions-wise — companies will need to extract more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it puts into it.

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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