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California renewable energy gets major boost in new law


Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday a mandate that 33% of electricity in California must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Executives at solar, wind and other clean energy companies said the new regulations could help California reclaim its green leadership position after losing ground to states such as Texas and Iowa.

“This is tremendous,” said Mike Hall, chief executive of solar installer Borrego Solar. “A legislative solution provides a lot more clarity and firepower for regulators and proponents.”

Brown, along with U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, signed the bill while helping dedicate a new solar panel manufacturing plant in Milpitas. The facility will produce 75 megawatts a year of panels from SunPower Corp. and is expected to create 100 jobs.

The new law, known as a renewable portfolio standard, is the most aggressive of any state. Several attempts to introduce a federal version have stalled in a divided and preoccupied Congress.

California had previously required investor-owned utilities such as Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric to generate 20% of their electricity from clean sources by 2010, with a three-year grace period.

The law signed Tuesday will also apply to municipal utilities such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which manage about a quarter of the state’s electricity load.

Energy activists hope the mandate will lead to even more ambitious requirements.

“California can power itself entirely on clean energy resources,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “Mandating that the state generate a third of its electricity from renewable energy is a big down payment toward that ultimate goal.”

Executives said they were also looking forward to long-term stability. Government incentives lasting just one or two years at a time have characterized the renewable energy market, causing boom-bust cycles when they expire.

“The RPS requirements allow utilities to plan to meet higher renewable energy standards and orient the market towards meeting those goals,” said Russ Kanjorski, a vice president at Abound Solar.

The new mandate also requires utilities to draw some of their power from small local projects based near customers –- known as distributed generation. Often situated on rooftops and parking lots, such installations don’t require the long transmission lines necessary for sprawling wind and solar plants in the deserts and mountains.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said she will introduce legislation this week to launch a pilot program that would put 75 megawatts of solar on rooftops around the city.

Los Angeles could place 300 megawatts on apartment rooftops –- enough to power 30,000 homes --  within the next decade, according to a study Tuesday from the Los Angeles Business Council, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, USC and UCLA. Many panels could be situated in economically disadvantaged areas.


California Senate votes for stronger renewable energy mandate

Obama's clean-energy goals have industry questioning feasibility

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Solar panels at PG&E's Vaca-Dixon solar energy site near Vacaville, Calif. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (77)

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This is a very good news if the electricity will come from the renewable resources. I salute and honor the decision of Gov. Jerry Brown.

This is mostly important because Jerry Brown gets it that solar power should be produced in the built environment, not in the wilderness, and made it part of his campaign. We plan on holding him to it!

The most recent study showed that LA county could actually produce 15,000 megawatts from its rooftops (5,000 within the City of LA), so it is embarrassing that Jan Perry is only aiming for 75. What is it with people and their undying devotion to Big Energy monopolies? can we at least go for 1,000 MW? the study Tiffany mentions also indicates that within 10 years, a reasonable payment to rooftop solar power producers would actually SAVE non-solar ratepayers money compared to them having to buy conventional power from the grid. This is a total win!

Germany will install about 8,000 MW of rooftop solar this year and so far has installed 30 times the rooftop solar as the US has, on a per-capita basis. WTH???

Time to get serious with feed in tariffs and PACE loans and stop killing our wilderness for Big Energy profits!

California once again leads the way in clean energy. Official support is essential to help the country transition to renewable sources of power, as experience shows.

All this money should be put into renewable R&D which will create technologies competitive with current energy sources, not these crude, overpriced mass scale, renewable projects, that do nothing but empty people wallets and become giant albatrosses to be paid for by the next generation.

Demand for fossil fuels is outstripping the deployment of cleaner technologies. Renewable energy has seen growth rates of 30 percent to 40 percent over recent years but coal has met 47 percent of global new electricity demand over the past decade. Furthermore, Fossil fuels received $312 billion in subsidies as of 2009 compared to $57 billion for renewable energy - Jason Kim.

Administration in power doesnt get help from the other - republicans fight democrats, and vice versa......gridlock and directionless energy policies change and nothing gets accomplished. If this happened in business you would be out the door. Solar, wind et al - Great leadership CA, you are always ahead of the nation, the rest will follow.

* In 1974 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Richard Nixon said, “At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need.”
* In 1975 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Gerald Ford said, “We must reduce oil imports by one million barrels per day by the end of this year and by two million barrels per day by the end of 1977.”
* In 1979 with 40.5% of oil from foreign sources, President Jimmy Carter said, “Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 – never.”
* In 1981 with 43.6% of oil from foreign sources, President Ronald Reagan said, “While conservation is worthy in itself, the best answer is to try to make us independent of outside sources to the greatest extent possible for our energy.”
* In 1992 with 47.2% of oil from foreign sources, President George Bush said, “When our administration developed our national energy strategy, three principles guided our policy: reducing our dependence on foreign oil…”
* In 1995 with 49.8% of oil from foreign sources, President Bill Clinton said, “The nation’s growing reliance on imports of oil…threatens the nation’s security…[we] will continue efforts to…enhance domestic energy production.”
* In 2006 with 65.5% of oil from foreign sources, President George W. Bush said, “Breakthroughs…will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”
* In 2009 with 66.2% of oil from foreign sources, President Barack Obama said, “It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”

Lines need to drawn in the sand

Overall cost of solar is by no means lower than fossil fuel, unless you are counting the cost of environmental damage. But to claim that solar is economically more viable than coal is pure lunacy.

As for those wondering what happens when there's cloud cover for an extended period of time, well Germany has currently 17,000 megawatts of solar capacity and leads the world in implementation of solar power. Germany is also one of Europe's worst in CO2 emission per KW/hr generated, along with wind power leader Denmark. What nations lead Europe in CO2 emission? Nuclear France, along with Norway (hydro) and Iceland (geothermal).

Houston does a lot of alternative, natural energy. Learn more from this video I found on YouTube:

his new law is a giant leap forward and sends an encouraging message to the venture capital community that the state remains committed to developing a vibrant renewable energy and clean technology sector.

Between 2005 and 2009, California clean tech firms received $9 billion in venture capital funds. By the second quarter of 2010 alone, the state received $980 million in funds – the most in the world!

For more commentary visit

Solar doesn't shut off when the sun goes down or clouds are overhead. In fact solar works on cloudy days--just not as well. It's not meant to be a 100% solution, so yes, you still need traditional power plants. But in case you haven't noticed, peak energy use is generally due to air conditioning on hot days when solar is working at full capacity. Getting a percentage of power from solar eliminates the strain on the grid.

The overall cost of solar is less than the overall cost of fossil fuels, which get tens of billions in subsidies and breaks every year. Fossil fuels also lead to environmental damage, damaged human health and excessive carbon emissions, all of which add to societal $$ costs tremendously even if you don't see it on your electric bill.

Well, at least the future rolling blackouts in California will be predictable.

You just have to look at the radar for cloud cover.

we cannot afford this now. you are destroying California

Can someone please explain to me what happens to the grid when the cloulds come over? Don't every single one of these "green" sourced energy sources have to be backed up by a running conventional plant to ensure a reliable and consistent source of energy? e.g. if you run a 10 MW solar plant that plant has to be backed up by a 10MW coal plant for when the sun isn't shining. Coal plants can't be switched on and off at the drop of a hat and so they have to run 24/7 anyway. Where's the savings?

unless conservation and efficiency upgrades are job one, lipstick on a pig will only make things worse. renewables powering waste are not green.

“A legislative solution provides a lot more clarity and firepower for regulators and proponents.”

If only that could happen on a nationwide scale :) At least, some states are paving the way for that, hopefully. The economic considerations behind this bill are most important to propagate similar initiatives. The bill stabilizes the market and opens up investment.

Renewable energy is a fantasy. The U.S. government, through states, has subsidized renewables for over 25 years. None of the Obama green payouts for eco-left votes has significantly increased green energy even with new subsidies that will soon expire.

I think you are all being short-sighted even if you don't like eco-freaks. This may actually be a practical investment with dividends paid both in cleaner air and lower energy costs. Perhaps you forget the economic spasms Enron put us through or are oblivious to the record gasoline prices you are now paying. "Continue to do the same thing" is perhaps not very shrewd.

California can continue to tie itself into long-term conventional energy contracts or bet that the price of their energy will go up ( it will) and that solar/wind/hydroelectric/etc. technology will improve (it will). To be ready for the 21st century with an investment now. Yes it is a wager but our current policy is circling the drain any way you look at it, something must be done.

Besides, if it goes too sour it just takes another law to extend deadlines, alter it (natural gas?) or junk it altogether.

It amazes me that with so much information at one's fingertips on the internet, that the "go green" losers in California haven't updated thier same old rhetoric of lies for renewables.
Wind is limited and never reached doubl digits in the energy composure. Solar is expensive and we are still in the middle of a recession despite what the retarded liberal media says.
In the end, the point to be made clear here is that the eco freaks care little for citizens, the poor and reality when it comes to pushing thier agenda. They raise our cost of living to get thier way NOW when we should be making small steps. It took decades to clearn up polluted air and water that resulted from the industrialization from the 40's to the 70's.
Peak oil can't be proven, Obama and libs have been putting up road blocks on drilling, Coal isn't anywhere as dirty as it use to be when we had acid rain problems. The lies of the left wing and irresponsible enviromentalist freaks needs to be weighed against the truth rather than old data and lies.

We are witnessing an energy fiasco of unprecedented proportions! This is the way people's money is confiscated by government and your way of life is radically altered. This is the way future debt obligations of residents is created. This is the way certain individuals politically connected also get grossly rich, and you as a citizen all never be aware of the price you've really paid for this energy hysteria. A lot of money is at stake, yours! Enjoy the ride, but don't do away with you fireplace and candles just yet. You may be burning coal , trash, and wood again someday for your basic needs. 50 to 60 cents a Kwh is tough to use much.

This will cost a fortune and push more businesses out of the State further eroding the tax base. Genius.

I also worry about the cost of mandates like this.

The DWP has consistently refused to estimate the effect of clean energy goals on power rates.

To the people who think solar or wind is free, all I can say is you're only looking at part of the equation.

Solar panels have a life of about 20 years. There is also a lot of electronics that take the low voltage DC output of a photovoltaic cell and turn it into 60 cycle 120V current used in the US. Wind turbines are moving parts that require regular maintenance.

So most people calculate the cost of electricity by taking the capital cost plus the maintenance and divide it by the total energy output over the expected life. Most articles I've read put this in the $18-25 range for 100 KWh versus about $15 for my current DWP bill. I expect my rates to rise significantly as this is implemented.

Oh yeah and just for comparison Nuclear Power is about $5 including the lawsuits to get licensed. Coal is comparable to nuclear.

I got my numbers from the Department of Energy website. I didn't make them up, honest.

States with mandatory feed-in tariffs subsidizing solar energy production have also limited the amount that can be built:

Solar is diffuse and unreliable. Pretending that passing a law can change the engineering side of this equation is ludicrous. People claiming that this nonsense is "saving our children’s future" need to explain how expensive, intermittent energy is a good idea.

I expect that California will take the same path, or rip out the demand altogether, the same as happened with the state's fanciful program to force zero-emission vehicles onto the marketplace by 2014.

We have enough domestic natural gas to run all the power generation we will ever need.

just another "idea" being crammed down our throats by someone who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to "energy." case in point: this will "create" 100 jobs; well, moonbeam, have you thought about the "hundreds" of jobs that will be lost because of your ignorance and irresponsibility?

Say goodbye to thousands more jobs in California!

Moonbeam hasn't changed this should make our electric bills triple by 2015 and triple again by 2020. Then come 2021 California will be just like Mexico a big worthless waste land.


Now I definitely won't vote yes for more taxes. Jerry Brown is a dumb Governor. The economy sucks and he does crap like this? He's clueless. We need a recall.

On the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust. He remembers it as fields of wheat and corn.

Yan Man Jia Hong is a dedicated Communist. At 74, he still believes in his revolutionary heroes, but he despises the young local officials and entrepreneurs who have let this happen.

‘Chairman Mao was a hero and saved us,’ he says. ‘But these people only care about money. They have destroyed our lives.’

Vast fortunes are being amassed here in Inner Mongolia; the region has more than 90 per cent of the world’s legal reserves of rare earth metals, and specifically neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets in the most striking of green energy producers, wind turbines.

Very encouraging. You're definitely moving in the right direction--the southland has excellent solar potential.

Germany is a leader and is dumping $20 Billion a year into it. Germany also has electricity rates of 30.66 cent/kWh in 2009 and going up, not down.

They currently produce about 16% of energy from renewables and have a 35% electricity target.

Now if we can just get the environmentalists to stop their lawsuits to... halt wind power farms in the mountains... stop a major solar farm in fallow Kern County farmland... kill a renewable energy electrical corridor into San Diego... and on and on. They sue to force renewable energy... then sue to stop it.

Judging from this fine, balanced piece of journalism, nobody is opposed to this

Renewable energy in the long run is cheaper as it employs resources that do not need to be mined or pumped. The set up is more expensive. Most of these technologies have been in use for decades in any case. In other parts of the world they have also been shown to create jobs and advance technology as distinct from the 19th century appoach so favored by so many.

those who are against this. We're running out of oil. Coal is dirty. What option do we have? Keep putting this off until we're literally out of any source of energy and then think about it?

Say hello to .35 per kilowatt hour electricity, Kalifornia! The only reason the "green industry" is celebrating is that now they can fleece the ratepayers!

I'm all for spending on renewable energy and we need to reduce our carbon footprint now. Things that offer no return on investment such as welfare and educating illegals can wait until we solve this more pressing problem.

Not one mention in the piece about how much this pie in the sky energy plan is going to cost you and me. "Alternative energy" is currently way more expensive to produce than coal or nuclear. Of course, liberals don't care how much their schemes cost consumers, they just want to be able to go to their cocktail parties and declare themselves superior to others.

Where is the budget? THAT, and only that, is the priority.

why? the usa has tons of natural gas, we should burn that up 1st, then use up our coal, and then do solar.

if we don't, we just end up shipping our coal and natural gas to china. it doesn't make sense to just invent weird rules based on the ruling class and their 5 year plans.

they live in a fantasy world.

wow; flower power guy is at it again. green energy jobs cost MULTIPLES of better jobs and energy costs MULTIPLES of coal, nat gas, oil

I complain about my bill as it is. As a DWP customer, I pay more in fees and surcharges than I do with the subtotal. Makes no frigging sense. I've been using significantly less electricity the past two years and yet my bills still are about the same to slightly higher. I can hardly wait to see how much more I'll be taxed.

This is great but we should also focus on improving energy effiiciency so that not as much energy is needed overall and we dont have to worry, like some people are, about where the money will come from to produce the green energy technologies and where we will put them etc.

Another nail in the industrial/commercial coffins of California. Moonbeam wants to raise taxes to fix the deficit and thretains to lay off Police & Firemen. He is mum when it comes to shuttering CARB and other regulatory agencies that have a death grip on the California economic engine. You liberals who think global warming is anthropogenic are living in a dream world. The Seas are still waiting for you (et-al) kooks to command them to rise. California can't recover as long as it can't compete.

More billions for politically correct, yet fiscally irresponsible issues. We, the tax payers lose. Brown has the gall to state he's cutting the budget. What pure political baloney (a nice word).

How many people have died from nuclear accidents in the US? How many have died in windmill, aka Condor Cuisinarts, accidents?

It is renewable energy which exists solely because of government subsidies and will never be as cheap as coal.

Ever wonder what you are competing with per kwh?

Plus land cost is cheaper than California, housing is cheaper, less government regulation, less taxes, much lower cost of living and much better quality of life.

Just fix the damn budget.

Skip the touchy feely green nonsense, and do the difficult work of balancing the budget.

So will we be reaping the benefits of cheaper energy costs? Since, you know, we the taxpayers are paying for these solar power initiative costs up front?

Or will the DWP be raising rates 30% in 2020 too?

This government sure is smart. They are so smart that every decission that has been made the last 50 years has yeilded the most efficient government in the world, and we should continue on the same path of job growth that every political hack has promissed us with all these green jobs. I mean look at the lines of jobs just falling in place with all the green jobs Gore promised us.

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