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A look at California's major advancements in renewable energy usage

California reaches major green energy milestone
California reaches major green energy milestone 02:19

SACRAMENTO — California has quietly passed a major energy milestone this week signaling advancements in renewable energy usage across the state.

Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson has seen a surprising trend.

For a period of time -- 15 minutes to 6 hours -- each day for the last month or so, the state's energy grid has been fueled 100% by clean renewables.

"California has exceeded 100% of its demand on the grid by just wind, water and solar," Jacobson said.

Johanna Neumann, a senior director for Environment America, calls it a sign of massive progress.

"The idea of getting all our energy from renewable energy felt like some fringe futuristic notion, and today, it is our lived experience," she said.

That only scratches the surface of what the state is capable of.

"California has the technical potential to meet all of its electricity needs 38 times over from solar alone," Neumann said.

So what does that mean for future energy bills? Neumann said it can actually be cheaper.

"Utility-scale solar is actually the cheapest out there," she said.

Jacobson added that the state's taxes on natural gas have made equipment like solar energy more economically attractive.

"These renewables are helping to keep these prices lower than they need to be," Jacobson said.

While climate change is at the forefront of the discussion, Jacobson said this push can have bipartisan support.

"We want to engage everybody in a transition, and it's important for everybody to feel like they're benefiting from this transition," he said.

It's something that Neumann agrees with and believes can lead the way toward a national push for clean renewables.

"Any investor looking to get a return on their investment is going to be putting their money towards wind and solar over fossil fuels," she said.

The California Legislature has signaled that they hope 90% of the state's energy consumption will come from renewable energy by 2035.

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