09/15/2019

Should Big Dams Count As Renewable Energy? California Democrats Divided

For motorists driving to Yosemite National Park from the Bay Area, Don Pedro Reservoir is a familiar sight. But the massive lake along Highway 120 just west of Groveland has taken on a new role recently: as a flashpoint in the debate over what should — and shouldn’t — count as renewable energy in California.

The outcome of that debate could impact how much solar and wind energy is developed across the state in years to come.

In an effort to combat climate change and reduce smog, former Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed a landmark law that requires California’s utilities to produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030.

But hydroelectric power from large dams doesn’t qualify as renewable, because of another state law, passed nearly 20 years ago, that aimed to protect salmon and other endangered fish.

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