California: Landscape of Renewable Energy Policy

January 2020
Molly Blondell*, Akshat Kasliwal*, Doug Noe*, Owen Watson*, University of Michigan

Californians have a strong history of environmentalism and progressive energy policies, dating back to the days of the gold rush. Some have posited that Californians care so much about the environment because they have had so much to lose from its degradation and so much to gain from its preservation. Perhaps the recent droughts and ensuing fires have given Californians the impetus to care even more about and alter their contribution to the global climate disaster. Over the last few decades, environmental concern, coupled with strong potential for renewable energy and high electricity prices, has contributed to significant renewable energy development and the establishment of aggressive renewable energy targets. California is regarded as a national leader in renewable energy generation from solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy sources. Most California residents (across the political spectrum) support renewable electricity and the legislative mandates for them. However, the state still has a long way to go to reach its goals. This paper discusses the current renewable energy policy landscape across California and explores potential opportunities for synthesis of state and local policies to bring about more efficient and effective adoption of renewable energy.