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California making major progress on clean energy goals

“We've done this very quickly. And that should give us all hope that we can get in front of the climate crisis"-Energy expert.

SAN DIEGO — A recent report by the California Energy Commission (CEC) says the state is making huge progress in relying on clean energy to fight climate change.

To better understand the State's clean energy goals, first understand the deadlines:

  • By 2030 the State's needs to be 60% reliant on renewable energy such as solar and wind.
  • By 2045, California needs to be 100% carbon free which would be generated from nuclear and hydroelectricity.

In the latest report from the CEC it found 59% of the state's electricity came from renewable and zero carbon sources in 2020.

“We've done this very quickly. And that should give us all hope that we can get in front of the climate crisis,” said Cisco DeVries.

He’s the CEO of OhmConnect, a Clean Energy company that serves 200,000 customers statewide including 28,000 in San Diego.

DeVries also served as an energy expert under former President Clinton.

He says despite the progress, the report doesn't credit consumers contributions.

“It does not count, for example, the 210,000 homes in the San Diego area that have solar on their roofs,” said DeVries. “We're actually doing even more on climate than it would appear just from this report.”

San Diego has made great strides: SDG&E reports it uses 30% renewable energy and nonprofit Community Choice Aggregators in places like San Diego, Chula Vista, Encinitas, La Mesa and Imperial Beach says it uses about 50 percent clean electricity.

But there's concern about a rise in rates.

“The [California] Public Utilities Commission and other folks in California are well aware of this. And there's a big focus on affordability right now,” said Scott Anders, USD Director of the Energy Policy and Initiatives Center.

He says while the state is on target for clean energy use it's going to require more to meet the goal set by lawmakers.

“As we add more and more and more renewables on system, we are going to need something like energy storage, on the utility side, potentially on the customer side as well, to help us with those evening peaks, when the sun doesn't shine,” said Anders.

Despite this progress, energy experts warn there are looming challenges ahead. The state will shut off its last nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon in a couple of years and the severe drought is expected to impact large hydroelectricity producers.

“As frustrated as we can get, as I get about how much more we need to do, I think this report is a moment actually to celebrate some of the big progress we've made,” said DeVries.

Energy experts say consumers can do their part and avoid peak use times but strongly encourages utilities to credit them for those conservation efforts.

DeVries company says last year it paid out $5 million to its customers for conservation efforts.

WATCH RELATED: Earth 8: California Energy Commission approves additional funding for local clean energy start-ups (July 2021).