Gov’s 33% Renewable Fiat Counts Imports

By Published On: November 21, 2008

The governor’s call for a 33 percent renewable energy standard for private and public California utilities by 2020 makes way for more imported non-fossil-fueled power. Under draft legislation sponsored by the governor, renewable energy produced within the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) would count towards the one-third renewable mandate, though the bill would give preference to California-produced green energy. The WECC region includes California, 13 other states, part of Baja, California, and two Canadian provinces. The first cut of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bill that Circuit reviewed also would permit utilities to use renewable energy credits generated by projects in the West to help meet the 33 percent standard. These credits, which represent the renewable attribute of the power produced--not the actual electrons--would have to come from projects built in 2005 or later. One of the challenges of reaching the higher non-fossil fuel power standard the governor announced November 17 is constrained transmission. For example, last year Arizona squelched a plan that would have allowed electricity to flow from Phoenix to Southern California along new transmission lines. Arizona’s Corporation Commission last summer refused to approve that state’s part of the proposed Palo Verde-Devers 2 transmission line into Southern California. Regulators said they did not want California to “suck” renewable energy out of their state. The draft bill also allows utilities and other sellers of electricity that make bona fide efforts to reach the higher standard to pay a compliance fee determined by the California Energy Commission. Other specifics of the bill include: -Mandating the vast majority of green power--80 percent--come from contracts 10 years or longer: -Establishing standard contract terms and performance criteria; -Requiring public disclosure of renewable deals six months after they are signed; and, -Ordering the Energy Commission to set renewable standards for public power agencies by October 31, 2009.

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