Microgrid Industry Sees Promise – Mostly – in California’s 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity Mandate

Clean energy continued its victory lap in California yesterday when Gov. Jerry Brown inked legislation that would require 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045, a move largely praised by microgrid industry leaders — with some cautions.

The bill (SB 100) was one of several clean energy initiatives passed by California lawmakers as they finished up the 2018 session at the end of August. Some bills still await Gov. Brown’s signature, including a bill that requires utility changes to support microgrids (SB 1339).

But it was SB 100 – the 100 percent zero-carbon electricity target – that most rocked the energy industry.

The legislation emerged out of efforts by a small but determined group that has been since the early part of the century for 100 percent clean energy worldwide. Supported by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute, a non-profit formed in 2007, the movement seemed quixotic at first, attracting some islands, a few cities, Hawaii and small countries like Denmark, Scotland and Ireland.

But with California, the fifth largest economy signing on, the quest no longer looks so moonstruck. Where California goes, the energy industry tends to follow.

“Historically, bold moves by states have reshaped the marketplace over time. There is no question that the energy industry is watching every move that California is making, as these policy decisions and desired outcomes are disruptive to the status quo and require reshaping traditional business models,” said Will Agate, former president and founder, NetZero Microgrid Solutions and now Ameresco’s vice president – microgrid services.

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