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California commits to more clean, green energy - new standard: 33% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020

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SACRAMENTO, 23 September 2010: Today California took a decisive step toward a clean energy future by setting in place a standard that one-third of the electricity sold in the state in 2020 come from clean, green sources of energy. The regulation establishing the 33 percent renewable electricity standard was adopted today unanimously by the California Air Resources Board. The standard will promote green jobs to construct and run renewable facilities in California, reduce hundreds of tons of harmful air pollution, insulate California’s economy from the shock of volatile natural gas prices and help establish the state as a global leader in the research, development and manufacturing of clean, renewable energy sources.
“The Renewable Electricity Standard means cleaner energy for California’s households and businesses. It will help clean our air and bring new solar and wind energy facilities to California with thousands of jobs in construction, operation and spin off industries,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “This standard is going to further diversify and secure our energy supply while also growing California’s leading green technology market, which will lead to cost savings for consumers.”  

The regulation adopted today is the product of coordination and cooperation by ARB, California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission and California Independent System Operator.  Work on the standard began immediately following the Governor’s Renewable Electricity Standard Executive Order, signed on September 15, 2009. The goal of 33 percent renewable electricity was also a major measure in the Scoping Plan, adopted by the Board in December 2008, toward fulfilling AB 32, the requirements of California’s climate change legislation.

The regulation ramps up the amount of electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy while preserving the existing authorities of the energy agencies and the grid operator.  ARB oversight will ensure that the renewable standard delivers substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and achieves clean air goals by reducing smog-forming pollution.

Important elements include:
  • The regulation applies to all entities that deliver electricity, including investor owned utilities (IOUs) and publically owned utilities (POUs) including municipal utilities;
  • The regulation creates a program that is consistent for all electrical entities;
  • The phased-in approach provides for interim targets for renewable energy: 20 percent for 2012 – 2014; 24 percent for 2015 – 2017; 28 percent for 2018 – 2019; 33 percent for 2020 and beyond;
  • The program employs the procedures and mechanisms already used by electrical entities; and,
  • The smallest electricity providers (sales of less than 200,000 megawatt-hours per year) are only subject to recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

The standard is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about the equivalent of 12 to 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in 2020. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the regulation will result in hundreds of tons of statewide reductions in smog-forming and toxic air pollutants by displacing the use of dirtier fossil fueled generation, providing a range of health related benefits.  

RES is one of many measures designed to reach the goals set out by AB 32, California’s law requiring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  In 2020 the new regulation will eliminate the equivalent of 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, making it one of AB 32’s largest emission-reduction strategies.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.