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California Assembly Approves 33% Renewable Mandate

California legislators yesterday approved a mandate for 33 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

The California Assembly raised the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), voting 59-19 in favor of Senate Bill 1X 2, which the state Senate approved 26-11 in February. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the legislation, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

California’s current, codified RPS requires California utilities to derive 20 percent of their electricity sources from renewable sources by the end of 2010. The utilities failed to make this standard, with Pacific Gas & Electric reaching 17.7 percent and Southern California Edison just missing the target at 19.4 percent, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

In 2009 former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation to raise the renewable requirement to 33 percent by 2020, but then issued an executive order instructing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to make the same increase.

The board drafted regulations to reach the target, but didn’t implement them. Renewable power developers argued that regulations could be easily re-written, and said that only a law would give the certainty needed for multi-million dollar investments, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

This sequence of events caused confusion that the bill should now eliminate, the Wall Street Journal said.

“Today, California legislators approved one of the most ambitious renewable energy programs in the world,” Peter Miller, senior scientist with the NRDC, said in a statement. “As a result of the RPS program, renewable energy generation in California in 2020 will be roughly equal to total current U.S. renewable generation, and supply enough clean energy to power nearly 9 million homes.”

Miller said the RPS and other clean energy programs will generate more than 500,000 new jobs and result in billions of dollars being invested in renewable energy.

But opponents say the bill will raise electricity prices and hurt the economy. “This is the kind of legislation that does damage to the economic health and well-being of California,” assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda said.

The state Public Utilities Commission estimated in 2009 that raising the standard to this level would cost tens of billions of dollars and raise electricity costs by 7.1 percent, the Fresno Bee said.

Pacific Gas & Electric opposed the bill while fellow utility Southern California Edison supported it.

In a ruling earlier this month, a California Supreme Court judge put a hold on implementation of California’s cap-and-trade program. But the CARB said implementation should remain on schedule.

Picture credit: stacey shintani

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5 thoughts on “California Assembly Approves 33% Renewable Mandate

  1. Wonderful! With Solar PV incentives at $1.65/W AC CEC rated and rapidly declining to $1.35/W the residential market will NOT be actively participating in driving the increased production of renewable energy. This is a sad state of affairs as point-of-load/use production is the best long-term solution for the environment. Why cover millions of acres of open real estate with PV/thermal systems when we have millions of rooftops ready, willing, and able to support solar systems – if the price is right?

  2. why solar why wind why any other renewable source when you get free green electricity by using the application of CASCADING MARINE HYDRO ELECTRICAL GENERATION WE CAN DO THIS IN ALL OVER THE PLANET FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MANKIND AS A SINGLE UNIT.

  3. Jack and Chaganti, you both have excellent ideas that should and will be implemented, but not exclusively or immediately. California is taking the next step in the slow and painful process of implementing change. A state mandated 33% requirement will put pressure on innovators/industry. Pressure that may open doors to real consideration and support of ideas like yours.

  4. The CARB incentive programs, although seeing some new investment, weren’t nearly strong enough to drive consumer change. That and they weren’t publicized nearly enough. Instead, CARB delegated this responsibility of those wanting to gain access to subsidy investment for private homes and business to implement RES to contact the utilities. It was a conflict of interest the whole time. SoCAL Edison and PG&E squashed residential development through tax rebates by doing nothing that they didn’t have to, and ensuring in the process that they became the sole beneficiaries and responsible parties for the growth of centralized renewables which is their mainstay.

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