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08/03/2012 03:20 PM     print story email story  

And Then There Were Three: California's PG&E Hits 20% Renewables Mark

SustainableBusiness.com News

All three investor-owned utility companies in California now meet 20% of their electricity needs with renewable sources, according to an update by the state's public utility commission.

And solar is becoming a much bigger piece of the mix. 

As we reported in February, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric actually reached the 20% goal in 2011. Now, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) says Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has achieved that target, too.

The new data comes from the CPUC's mid-year update to California lawmakers.

Overall, the three California utilities served 20.6% of their electricity demand with renewable sources in 2011 versus 17% in 2010, reports the CPUC. Together, the three companies account for 68% of the electricity sold to California retail customers.

The state's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and community aggregators to source at least 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

As of CPUC's latest report, Southern California Edison has the highest renewables mix (21.1%), followed by San Diego Gas & Electric (20.8%) and PG&E (20.1%).

The next milestone that the utilities are required to meet is between 2014 to 2016, when they are expected to reach the 25% mark.

And that's where solar comes in.

By 2020, solar power (not including small-scale rooftop solar) will account for about 11 percent of all power sold by the utilities, according to the CPUC's projections.

That's a lot of investment when you consider that solar accounted for just 0.3% of California's electricity as of 2010. By comparison, wind generates about 5% of the state's power.

As just one example, PG&E projects that 40% of its renewables mix will come from solar by 2020, followed by wind (23%), bioenergy (15%),  geothermal (14%) and small hydro (8%).

Today, its renewables mix breaks down in the following way: wind (31%), geothermal (26%), bioenergy (23%), small hydro (19%) and solar (1%).

For more on the progress of the three California utilities:

Website: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Renewables/index.htm



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