California Gov to Sign Renewable Energy Bill

Source:

"Brown plans to sign legislation Tuesday that would require California utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources, giving the state the most aggressive U.S. alternative-energy mandate."

Gov. Jerry Brown plans to sign legislation Tuesday that would require California utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources, giving the state the most aggressive U.S. alternative-energy mandate.

Under the bill, California utilities and other power providers would have until the end of 2020 to draw 33% of their power from solar panels, windmills, landfill gases, small hydroelectric plants and other renewable sources.

Supporters said the increase from the current 20% target will reassure investors that demand for renewable energy will grow, fueling a field that has been one of the few growth spots for California's economy during the recession.

Critics of the legislation said sticking with traditional energy sources such as coal and natural gas would be cheaper, keeping costs down for business and residential ratepayers.

California power generation is just short of receiving 20% from renewable sources. About 57% of in-state generation in 2009 came from natural gas, with about 15% from nuclear-power plants and 12% from large hydroelectric generators.

Meeting the higher standard is expected to require tens of billions of dollars in capital investment for generation equipment and transmission lines, with expenses ultimately passed along to ratepayers of the state's investor-owned and municipal utilities.

The bill includes language that would require the California Public Utilities Commission to set reasonable limits for what utilities should have to pay and allows the standards to be relaxed if not enough renewable-power or transmission capacity is available to meet them.

California's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., has supported higher renewable standards but opposed Mr. Simitian's bill, saying the legislation doesn't include adequate safeguards against excessive costs. PG&E wants to work with the Brown administration to put specific measures in follow-up legislation, company spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said.

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