California regulators on Thursday unanimously adopted a regulation raising the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 33% by the year 2020.
The California Air Resources Board began work on the new regulation last year following an executive order issued by Governor Arnorld Schwarzenegger to raise the RPS from 25%, making it by far the most aggressive goal for renewable energy production in the U.S.
Schwarzenegger praised the adoption of the new regulation, but noted that he is still working with the state legislature to give the 33% requirement the force of law. California lawmakers introduced such a bill this year, but were unable to bring it forward for a vote before the end of the session.
The regulation adopted Thursday ramps up the amount of electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy while preserving the existing authorities of the energy agencies and the grid operator.
Important elements include:
- The regulation applies to all entities that deliver electricity, including investor owned utilities (IOUs) and publically owned utilities (POUs) including municipal utilities
- The phased-in approach provides for interim targets for renewable energy: 20% for 2012–2014; 24% for 2015–2017; 28% for 2018–2019; 33% for 2020 and beyond
- The smallest electricity providers (sales of less than 200,000 megawatt-hours per year) are only subject to recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
The standard is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about the equivalent of 12 to 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in 2020. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the regulation will result in hundreds of tons of statewide reductions in smog-forming and toxic air pollutants by displacing the use of dirtier fossil fueled generation, providing a range of health related benefits.
RPS is one of many measures designed to reach the goals set out by AB 32, California’s law requiring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2020 the new regulation will eliminate the equivalent of 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, making it one of AB 32’s largest emission-reduction strategies.
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