California investor-owned utilities will not support lifting the state\u2019s renewables portfolio standard target to 33 percent by 2020 unless municipal utilities are subjected to the same requirement and new transmission lines are licensed and financed to open up wind, solar, and geothermal resources, according to testimony before a state Senate panel August 28. Munis countered that state lawmakers must face the reality that they remain controlled by locally elected officials, who oppose dictates from Sacramento. Pacific Gas & Electric believes it would be unfair to investor-owned utilities to not also require munis to meet the higher renewables mandate, said John Busterud, the utility\u2019s director and counsel for environmental affairs. He told the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee to do otherwise would create an un-level playing field. San Diego Gas & Electric cannot meet a 33 percent renewable energy requirement without new transmission lines, added Robert Anderson, the utility\u2019s director of resource planning. The company also is concerned about how such a requirement would affect the reliability of its grid. However, a key state Senator maintained it is important to set a legally binding 33 percent goal to move beyond the 20 percent renewables portfolio standard requirement. \u201cThese are issues that are going to be with us for many, many years,\u201d said Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). The senator is the author of SB 411, which would increase the RPS from 20 percent in 2010 to 33 percent in 2020. At press time, the bill, which is facing stiff opposition, was pending before the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the last step before it goes to the lower chamber\u2019s floor for a vote. It already passed the state Senate. Although the hearing was ostensibly set to find out what\u2019s happening with the state\u2019s climate change law, AB 32, Simitian pressed SDG&E and PG&E representatives to outline their positions on his bill before the committee. Southern California Edison is on record as opposing the bill as premature, based on concerns about both its cost and possible effect on grid reliability due to the intermittency of wind and solar power. Simitian insisted that a 33 percent renewables portfolio standard target likely would be instrumental in reducing state greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 levels, as called for in AB 32. Munis were quick to rebuff investor-owned utilities\u2019 suggestion that they be subjected to a state-mandated 33 percent renewables portfolio standard. \u201cThe investor-owned utilities ought to find another excuse,\u201d said Jerry Jordan, California Municipal Utilities Association executive director. Los Angeles Department of Water & Power president David Nahai rose from his chair in the audience to tell the panel, \u201cWe should not be disturbed by red herrings. We have almost tripled our renewable portfolio. We\u2019re at 8 percent.\u201d He went on to say that the lawmakers need to understand publicly owned utilities are fundamentally different than investor-owned utilities because they are accountable to locally elected officials who already are leading on global warming and renewable energy. \u201cEight percent is not a leadership position,\u201d shot back committee chair Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego). She and Simitian then cut Nahai short to return to the committee\u2019s established agenda of witnesses. California Energy Commission chair Jackie Pfannenstiel said that the investor owned utilities are well on their way to meeting the 20 percent renewables portfolio standard in 2010. Edison already has hit the 16.8 percent renewables mark, said Michael Whatley, the utility\u2019s resource planning manager. Completing a transmission line from the Tehachapi Mountains wind resource area likely will push the utility over the top on the current 20 percent RPS requirement, he said. SDG&E already is planning to have 50 percent of its power stem from greenhouse-gas-emissions-free resources by 2015, including nuclear power, said Anderson. However, he added that load growth may then begin to erode that figure. Riverside Public Utilities--which serves a fast-growing area in the hot Inland Empire region of Southern California--has met a 15 percent renewables milestone, said Dave Wright, the muni\u2019s director. However, he characterized further progress as difficult, particularly under its strategy to push photovoltaic rooftops in the sunny area. The muni is offering to pay half the cost of purchasing and installing household solar systems, but so far only 20 of its 100,000 residential customers have taken advantage of the generous incentive program, he said. Riverside is a ground zero area for sub-prime mortgage defaults. A California Independent System Operator representative said the grid operator is studying how to integrate more renewable energy into the state\u2019s power system, but that some backup fossil fuel plants may be needed to do so. The representative explained that because of the need for such backup lawmakers cannot necessarily expect a \u201cone to one\u201d correspondence between increased use of renewable power and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. The committee is considering whether to hold a hearing on efforts to develop a greenhouse gas emissions trading market in its ongoing oversight of how the state\u2019s climate change law is being carried out.