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03/12/2012 12:48 PM     print story email story  

Power of Supportive Policy: California Could Get 66% of Electricity From Renewables, Double It's Already Aggressive Goal News

Thanks to prescient policies, California could achieve double its already aggressive goal of 33% of electricity from renewables by 2020.

In a keynote speech at the Solar Energy Symposium in San Diego last week, Michael Picker, California's Senior Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities pointed out: "The price for access to the sun is likely to be the same 20 years from now as it is today. Remember, we are not competing with the Chinese for the sun, itself," reports pv magazine.

Although there are issues to be ironed out, such as grid interconnections, the state already has enough renewables on tap to get 33% by 2020. It needs 12 gigawatts (GW) to get there, and 7.99 (GW) is online, pending or authorized.

From 2010-2011, California approved permits for over 16 GW, almost half of which is solar (7.67 GW). And the projects in the queue that would come online by January 2017 would double that capacity - imagind California getting 66% of its elctricity from renewables!

The main components of Governor Brown's plan:

  • 8 GW of large-scale renewables;
  • 12 GW of small, distributed electricity generation;
  • Approve plans and permits for new necessary transmission within three years;
  • Deal with peak energy needs and develop energy storage;
  • Create a timeline to make new homes and commercial buildings zero net energy;
  • Make existing buildings more efficient;
  • Adopt stronger appliance efficiency standards; and
  • Increase combined heat and power production by 6.5 GW

California's three largest utilities will get 20% of their energy from renewables this year, as required by the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) - 20% by 2010.  California now gets about 5% of its electricity from wind.

Picker says the rest of the country can take a lesson from this: "You don't have to just drift toward the future. Set a big goal and develop power to meet that goal."

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