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Electric utilities close to meeting renewables goals

March 3, 2011 |  4:09 pm

The state's three biggest investor-owned utilities, led by Southern California Edison Co., are edging closer to meeting their mandated goal of producing 20% of their electric power from renewable energy sources.

Edison at the end of 2010 generated 19.4% of its electricity from wind, solar and geothermal sources, up from 17.4% in 2009, according to a report issued Thursday by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., based in San Francisco, produced 17.7% of its electricity from renewable sources, compared with 14.4% in 2009, while San Diego Gas & Electric Co. hit 11.9% last year, an increase of 1.4 percentage points over 2009.

California law originally required the three utilities to produce 20% of their power from non-fossil-fuel sources by the end of 2010, but none of the companies could reach that goal. The PUC subsequently extended the deadline to the end of 2012.

But meeting the 20% goal in the next two years would not be enough to satisfy California policy makers. Two years ago, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order demanding that the three electric companies and their municipally owned counterparts produce a third of their power from renewables by 2020.

At least two efforts to write that requirement into law either failed to get out of the state Legislature or were vetoed by the governor.

Lawmakers this year are again trying. Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced a bill that has a good chance of passing and being signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

-- Marc Lifsher