At the end of September, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted unanimously to approve a measure that would require entities delivering power to the state to acquire one-third of their power from renewable resources.
This measure is different than the existing 20% target in that it covers both investor-owned utilities and publicly owned utilities. The existing RPS comes under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) while the CARB has a more far reaching mandate to regulated GHG emissions under A.B. 32.
Earlier in the month, the state legislature was unable to pass the 33% renewable portfolio standard into law. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office commented that the CARB’s approval carries the same legal weight as a bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
CARB stated that the target is forecast to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12-13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2020. In addition to the environmental impacts, the CARB and Governor Schwarzenegger expect the measure to incentivize and attract more clean energy project development to California. The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved a 392 megawatt solar thermal power plant to be constructed by BrightSource Energy LLC. Other projects are hurrying to receive approvals before the end of the year when federal stimulus incentives expire.
CARB, CPUC, CEC and CA’s independent system operator will all work closely to help implement the new standard. The measure targets a phased approach with 20% by 2012, 24% by 2017, 28% by 2019, and 33% by 2020.