Governor raises renewable energy goals & expedites process

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Nov. 21, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Upon recommendation of California’s Air Resources Board, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order (EO) to his agencies to increase the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 33 percent by 2020.  He also ordered the streamlining of the approval process for California's renewable energy projects to make them competitive and get them built sooner.  The event took place November 17th at CMTA-member OptiSolar’s new plant in Rancho Cordova.

Currently, California utilities must get 20 percent of their electricity load from renewable energy sources by 2010.  

State government agencies in the EO are directed to create comprehensive plans to prioritize regional renewable projects based on an area's renewable resource potential and the level of protection for plant and animal habitats.  The new target is to be implemented in all regulatory proceedings, including siting, permitting and procurement for renewable energy power plants and transmission lines.  

The agencies were also directed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each other and with federal agencies to streamline the process and make it easier for wind, solar and geothermal sites, for example, to be built in California.  The California Energy Commission, Dept. of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management have already signed.  This coordinated approach will significantly reduce the time and expense for developing renewable energy on federally owned California land, including the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions.  The CEC and DFG will create a one-stop permitting process with the goal of reducing application times for specific projects in half.

It is likely that legislation will be introduced to codify a 33 percent RPS. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reports that this is an aggressive goal that will require a $60 billion investment in generation and transmission between 2010 and 2020. It is vital that all customers share in these costs to ensure fairness among customer classes, to provide appropriate price signals to all consumers and protect California’s economy.  Currently, rate increases to the first tiers of the residential usage is prohibited, thus putting all new costs on other customer loads.  CMTA believes this should be amended to allow the CPUC to determine the appropriate and fairest rate design and level of cost responsibility.

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