NewEnergyNews: Holiday Reading: California’s Big Utilities at 20.6 Percent Renewables in 2011; Do Renewable Energy Standards grow solar and wind?

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YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 8:

  • TTTA Thursday- The Record Of The New EPA Head
  • TTTA Thursday-The Undeveloped New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Walking On New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Electric Tractor For Emissions-Free.Farming
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  • QUICK NEWS, December 6: Sliver Of Hope? Al Gore In Climate Change Meet With Donald Trump; The Opportunity In New Energy; Google Seizing New Energy Opportunity
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  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Way For New Energy To Meet Peak Demand
  • QUICK NEWS, December 5: Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate; The Wind-Solar Synergy; The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs
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  • Weekend Video: Trump Truth And Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Daily Show Talks Pipeline Politics
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  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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  • A Climate Change Denier’s Lies Exposed
  • The Good News Numbers On The EV Boom
  • “This Is Just The Beginning”

    Wednesday, January 02, 2013

    Holiday Reading: California’s Big Utilities at 20.6 Percent Renewables in 2011; Do Renewable Energy Standards grow solar and wind?

    Holiday Reading: California’s Big Utilities at 20.6 Percent Renewables in 2011; Do Renewable Energy Standards grow solar and wind?

    Herman K. Trabish, July 24, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    The newest numbers show that California’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) were at 20.6 percent renewables at the end of 2011. With approximately 17 percent at the end of 2010, they fell somewhat short of meeting the state’s 2002 mandate that they obtain 20 percent of their power from renewables by the end of 2010.

    Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown and the majority of the state’s lawmakers were encouraged enough to institute a new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring all state electricity providers obtain one-third of their power from renewables by 2020. It will certainly grow California renewables.

    But will the new, more ambitious RPS continue to grow the use of wind, solar and other renewables?

    The Clean Energy Race; How Do California’s Public Utilities Measure Up?, an analysis of the 2010 numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), showed an even better response to the 20 percent mandate on the part of California’s ten biggest publicly owned utilities (POUs). POUs generate approximately 25 percent of the state’s electricity but, because they are locally governed, were given flexibility in the 2002 RPS.

    Nevertheless, the POUs outdid the state’s IOUs in the shift to renewables. The combined thirteen biggest utilities -- three IOUs and the ten POUs -- provided 87 percent of California’s retail electricity in 2010. About 52 percent came from fossil sources. The ten POUs cumulatively grew their sales of RPS-eligible, renewables-generated retail electricity from 4.1 percent in 2003 to 18.8 percent in 2010.

    Other shifts in the ten POUs’ sources in the same 2003 to 2010 period: Nuclear decreasedfrom 10 percent to 7 percent, large hydro decreased from 19 percent to 12 percent, and coal decreased from 38 percent to 31 percent. Natural gas increased from 29 percent to 34 percent.

    To be RPS-eligible, the electricity must come from “wind, sun, geothermal heat, biomass, biogas, fuel cells using renewable fuels, hydropower [of no more than 30 megawatts], municipal solid waste [under certain conditions], or wave or tidal power,” according to the UCS report. It must also come from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) transmission region.

    Almost half of the POUs’ renewable additions (43 percent) came from “long-term investments in new renewable energy resources built after the original RPS was enacted,” the UCS reported.

    But, it pointed out, “the POUs still relied on electricity from fossil fuels for two-thirds of their retail sales.”

    The RPS was especially effective at stimulating the growth of solar, wind and biofuels. While much of the geothermal and hydro in the 2010 renewables portfolio was in service before the enactment of the 2002 RPS, the UCS report noted, relatively large quantities of wind, solar and biofuels were added afterwards.

    The UCS described Silicon Valley Power, Turlock Irrigation District, and Modesto Irrigation District as “sprinting ahead.”

    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Riverside Public Utilities, Anaheim Public Utilities, Sacramento Municipal Utility District were “on the right track, but must keep moving.” Roseville Electric, Burbank Water and Power, and Imperial Irrigation District, according to the UCS report, have had a “false start.”

    Because the POUs did better than the IOUs, the UCS recommended three changes inrenewables standards that guide their practices.

    To give renewables developers the kind of increased certainty intended by a standard, the standard should increase focus on long-term contracts.

    Modesto, for instance, obtained nearly all of its 17.8 percent renewable sources through long-term (ten or more years) contracts, whereas Roseville got well over half its 17.5 percent from short-term (less than four years) contracts.

    Because renewables projects are not immune to delays and failures, utilities should include assumptions in their planning to account for them. They should, the UCS report advised, “sign contracts for more than the minimum amount of electricity required.”

    On the other, the UCS report said, “IOUs had to obtain CEC [California Energy Commission]certification for all their RPS-eligible facilities, while the POUs did not. That means the POUs counted electricity for their RPS programs that the IOUs may not have been able to purchase. In fact, the CEC would not have certified 13 percent of the POUs’ RPS investments in 2010 because the electricity was generated by facilities that were outside the state.” The acceptability of another 15 percent was questionable.

    Finally, “transparent reporting leads to accountability,” the UCS reported. Utilities should provide “publicly available plans [and] progress reports that document their investments.”

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