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California Will Move To Collect All Electricity From Clean Sources Under New Law

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A new California law says the state must phase out fossil fuels from its electrical grid by 2045. This comes as California sees significant effects from climate change. Capital Public Radio's Ezra David Romero reports from Sacramento.

EZRA DAVID ROMERO, BYLINE: The law requires the state to gradually collect all its electricity from clean sources like hydropower, solar and wind. Governor Jerry Brown signed the historic piece of legislation today.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMERO: The legislation calls on electric utilities to move faster toward previous renewable energy goals.

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JERRY BROWN: California has been doing stuff most of the world is just hoping they might get to someday. So this is not a one-off. This is a series of actions that are leading California in the right direction.

ROMERO: The law is also designed to show deeper opposition to the Trump administration's energy policies which focused on coal and oil. Democratic State Senator Kevin de Leon wrote the bill.

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KEVIN DE LEON: Today we're setting a marker that will be remembered by future generations. When our country seems to be drifting, it is because of California we can pursue science and fact-based policies.

ROMERO: This summer, the state released a report showing that climate change could mean California will experience more extreme wildfires, rising sea levels and intense heat waves. Opponents say the state's efforts could raise the price of power and hurt workers in the fossil fuel industry. Others say the goal of 100 percent renewables is not realistic because wind and solar power are not always available. The human effects of climate change were also a reason for the law. Here's activist billionaire Tom Steyer.

TOM STEYER: Do they know that if there's a wildfire in their region, if there is a flood in their region, that it dramatically impacts their family? Yes, they do. So what we believe is that people are increasingly seeing the symptoms.

ROMERO: California is now the second state to make a pledge like this. The other is Hawaii. The signing of today's law comes as California is preparing for a global climate change conference later this week. For NPR News, I'm Ezra David Romero in Sacramento. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.