Op-ed: The end of coal is near

By David Hochschild (Member, California Energy Commission) & Danny Kennedy (Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund), The San Francisco Chronicle

We are witnessing the end of an era. Coal is fast becoming the telegraph to renewable energy’s Internet. American coal stocks are undergoing the most precipitous decline in the history of the energy industry.

While coal remains America’s largest source of electricity generation, over the past six years coal-fired generation has declined from 52 to 34 percent of our electricity portfolio. We must turn away from coal — an old, dirty, increasingly less profitable technology — and invest in the high-growth, high-margin clean technologies taking its place.

Renewable energy, which made up just 12 percent of California’s generation in 2008, now provides more than 25 percent of the state’s power. California is on track to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, after which fossil fuels will become the alternative energy. As a result of this progress, there are now more Californians working in the solar industry than working for the state’s utilities. The United States now has twice as many solar industry employees as coal miners. As we work to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future, we need to ensure that America’s 80,000 coal miners are given the support they need and that the new energy economy’s benefits are widely shared.

Read full op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle

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