Renewable energy legislation advances in California

Legislation authored by State Sen. Joe Simitian would require private and public utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 has passed the California Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. S.B.722 passed 9-2 and would raise the renewable target from 20%, while providing the flexibility necessary to meet the higher standard.
“Senate Bill 722 does not require utilities to reach the goal at any cost, however,” says Simitian. “If the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) determines that no reasonably priced renewable energy is available, a utility will be permitted to postpone meeting the deadline.”
Last year, Simitian’s previous renewable portfolio standard bill, S.B.14, was approved by both houses of the legislature but was vetoed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif.
Simitian re-introduced the legislation as S.B.722 this year, seeking common ground with the governor on such issues as renewable energy credits and the definition of which renewable power counts toward the standard.
Studies from the University of California Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies indicate that upwards of 120,000 jobs could be created in California as a result of the bill.
California’s current renewable energy target, also authored by Simitian, requires that investor-owned utilities procure 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by Dec. 31 of this year. However, existing law caps at 20% the amount of renewable energy that the CPUC can order a utility to buy or build. S.B.722 changes the mandate to 33% and extends the date to reach it to 2020.
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