At a Pacific Gas and Electric power plant east of San Francisco, greenhouse gases flow from a stack as the air shimmers from heat, with no dirty cloud of pollution in sight. In the distance, wind turbines spin slowly under a cloudy sky. And nearby in the city of Antioch, local schools are celebrating the addition of solar panels to their roofs and parking structures.
“If you look around, it’s really clean,” said Ben Stanley, PG&E’s plant manager, as he showed how the gas facility makes electricity for Northern California.
The state’s electric power sources are poised to get cleaner still. In 15 years, electric utilities that power California’s lights and cellphones would need to get fully half their electricity from renewable sources, if Senate Bill 350, which is working its way through the legislature, passes. The goal, often called a renewable portfolio standard, can almost certainly be met, though…
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