The California Public Utilities Commission at the end of last month said that the state's utilities had met the goal of serving 20 percent of their electricity with renewable energy and are already on track to far surpass that goal in 2012.

As outlined in the CPUC's first/second quarter 2012 renewable energy progress report to the state Legislature, California in 2011 saw the greatest year-to-year increase in renewable generation achieving commercial operation since the beginning of the state's renewable energy program. The state's investor-owned utilities served 20.6 percent of their electricity with renewable energy in 2011 (up from 17 percent in 2010). In 2011, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. served 20.1 percent of its retail sales with renewable energy, Southern California Edison with 21.1 percent, and San Diego Gas & Electric with 20.8 percent.

The state's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators regulated by the CPUC to procure 33 percent of retail sales per year from eligible renewable sources by 2020. The RPS also requires retail sellers to achieve intermediate RPS targets of 20 percent from 2011-2013 and of 25 percent from 2014-2016.

Other report highlights include:

  • Since 2003, 2,871 MW of new renewable capacity achieved commercial operation under the RPS program. More than 300 MW of new renewable capacity came online in the first two quarters of 2012, and another 2,740 MW is scheduled to come online before the end of the calendar year.
  • The investor-owned utilities filed 16 new contracts for 347 MW of renewable capacity in the first two quarters of 2012. In the same time period, the CPUC approved 48 contracts representing 2,450 MW of renewable capacity, including 34 contracts for projects 20 MW or smaller, 13 of which (for 145 MW) resulted from the first Renewable Auction Mechanism solicitation.
  • In May 2012, the CPUC addressed program pricing and design for the Feed-in-Tariff program, and established new compliance rules for the RPS program under Senate Bill 2 (1X) (Simitian, 2011).

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