News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

California Utilities On Track to Meet Renewable Energy Goals

About a fifth of this came from renewable sources | Photo: Chris Clarke/ReWire

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced today that the state's largest utilities have met interim goals for renewable energy development mandated by state law, and are well on their way to getting a third of their power from non-fossil fuels by 2020.

The state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires that most providers of retail electrical power must average 20% renewable energy in the power they sell customers between 2011 and 2013, and 25% between 2014 and 2016. The CPUC says today that the state's three largest investor-owned utilities may well have met that interim goal.

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The three utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), sell 68% of the electricity provided to California retail customers. The renewable percentage of each utility's power squeaked past 20% in March, making compliance with the 20% average from 2011-13 well within reach. Of the power provided by the three utilities combined, 20.6% qualified as renewable power under the RPS law.

California's Renewable Portfolio Standard, passed into law as Senate Bill 1078, originally required utilities to reach the 20% renewables bar by 2010. That benchmark was extended three years by Senate Bill 107, signed in 2006 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a further 33% target set for 2020. (The amended RPS law came in for criticism from many renewable energy advocates, who charged that extending the deadline was letting utilities off the hook too easily.)

Since passage of the first RPS law in 2002, 2,871 megawatts of renewable energy generating capacity has been added to California's grid. The CPUC forecasts almost that much being added to the grid just in 2012, by the time the year comes to a close. In the first half of the year PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E filed new contracts for 347 megawatts of renewable capacity, and the CPUC approved contracts for 2,450 additional renewable megawatts -- which would double the state's grid-tied renewable energy generating capacity.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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