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Gov. Brown pushes renewable energy goal at UCLA conference

July 25, 2011 |  4:05 pm

Jerrybrown Gov. Jerry Brown wants a major chunk of California’s renewable energy to come from urban rooftops and backyards, rather than just the massive solar and wind installations scattered around the outskirts of the state.

How that’ll come to pass, though, is still up in the air.

So Brown called a conference to figure out how to execute his plan, which calls for rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines, fuel cells and other clean-power technologies across California generating 12 gigawatts of electricity by 2020. That’s enough to power roughly 3 million homes.

More than 200 energy experts convened Monday at UCLA to create a preliminary roadmap to help diversify the state’s renewable energy portfolio, which is currently laden with large wind and solar farms sprawling over remote sites.

So-called distributed generation, usually involving smaller renewable-energy projects placed on and around local buildings, avoid many of the disadvantages of utility-scale installations, supporters said.

Distributed generation cuts out the expensive transmission infrastructure needed by desert and mountain-bound projects to deliver electricity to urban customers, supporters said. Smaller projects are also built faster and usually not on land that is environmentally or culturally sensitive, they said.

But implementation of the 12-gigawatt goal won’t be without hurdles. The permitting process for local clean electricity projects varies by city and county and will need to be streamlined. Many property owners are still skeptical about the cost and efficiency of renewable energy technologies and may hesitate to adopt them.

“This is tens of thousands of little decisions,” Brown said. “The distribution is its strength and also its challenge.”

RELATED:

California renewable energy gets major boost in new law

California seeks to lift federal block on energy-saver program

Wind turbines growing taller and more powerful

-- Tiffany Hsu [follow]

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento last month. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

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