In the continental U.S., California has mandated the highest Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) at 33% by 2020. Only Hawaii’s 40% by 2030 is higher among all states, with Alaska setting a non-mandated goal of 50% by 2025. The RPS requires a percent of energy sales (MWh) or installed capacity (MW) to come from renewable sources: Bioenergy, geothermal, solar, wind, wave and tidal power and small hydroelectric dams — which cause less harm to the environment than large hydro dams — all count toward meeting the law. Percentages usually increase incrementally from a base year to a later target.
The California Public Utility Commission recently reported the state’s three largest utilities have met interim goals for renewable energy development mandated by state law. RPS procurement quantities were established in Public Utility Code 399.15b for all retail sellers — investor-owned utilities, community choice aggregators, and electric service providers. Compliance is determined by the amount of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) retired for compliance within three multi-year compliance periods through 2020.
From 2011 through 2013, the RPS is 20%. For 2014 (21.7%), 2015 (23.3%), 2016 (25%), 2017 (27%), 2018 (29%), 2019 (31%) and 2020 and thereafter, 33%. Currently, California’s largest utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – all average more than 20% and are in compliance.
In 2011, Pacific Gas & Electric got most of its renewable energy from wind, bioenergy, geothermal and small hydropower dams. Solar only accounted for about one percent. But solar is the fastest-growing piece of renewable portfolios, driven by federal stimulus funding for large solar power plants, a drop in solar panel prices and a boom in the number of developers competing for long-term utility contracts in California. By 2020, PG&E believes solar will account for as much as 40 percent of its renewable portfolio.
”We’re about to see solar on a project scale larger than almost anywhere in the world,” said Aaron Johnson, director of renewable energy policy and strategy at PG&E. “Planning for the 33 percent began four or five years ago. There’s no way to get from here to there without solar.”
Since the start of California’s renewable energy program in 2002, PG&E has signed 27 solar photovoltaic contracts totaling 2,376 megawatts and 14 solar thermal contracts totaling 2,735 megawatts.
Roughly 20 percent of retail electricity sales last year by California’s three large investor-owned utilities came from renewable power, according to a report by the California Public Utilities Commission. The 33 percent target by 2020 is widely believed to be well within reach, and some state policymakers are already talking about increasing the target to 40 percent.
Hey, like this post? Why not share it with a friend?Tweet