California commission approves renewables rules for public utilities

The California Energy Commission on June 12 approved new rules to help publicly owned utilities (POUs) achieve the state’s 33% renewable energy target by 2020.

“The publicly owned utilities are an important partner to meet the statewide Renewables Portfolio Standard,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller. “I look forward to working with the utilities to secure California’s victory of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 that is critical to reduce our emissions and secures environmental benefits. California’s RPS is a dynamic model that is making significant strides in developing clean renewable energy that is a role model for the nation.”

The new regulations establish the rules and procedures that the commission will use to assess the actions of the state’s 45 POUs and determine whether those actions meet the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) procurement requirements. The proposed regulations require the POUs to submit plans, reports, and other information so the commission can verify and determine compliance with the RPS.

Legislation enacted in 2011 (Senate Bill X1-2) also established three renewable energy compliance periods that requires the utilities to meet an average of 20% of retail sales from eligible renewable resources from January 2011 through December 2013, 25% by the end of 2016, 33% by the end of 2020, and no less than 33% in all subsequent years.

The commission said it recently launched a tool that tracks the progress towards achieving the RPS and highlights the POU renewable procurement forecasts from 2011 through 2020. The data is self-reported to the commission by the POUs and will be verified after the conclusion of each compliance period.

The largest POUs in California that have forecasted meeting the first compliance target of 20% for 2011-2013 includes: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Imperial Irrigation District, Silicon Valley Power, Modesto Irrigation District, City of Anaheim, Riverside Public Utilities, Turlock Irrigation District, and the City of Roseville Electric Utility.

The commission began a process for public and stakeholder feedback in 2011 as it developed the POU enforcement procedures. The vommission considered comments from the POUs, Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs), renewable energy and environmental organizations, and consumer advocates. Collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) also ensured alignment of the POU regulations with the requirements established by the CPUC for the IOUs and other retail sellers of electricity.

The energy commission anticipates the enforcement procedures to go into effect for the POUs by October 2013. The POUs’ first annual report, which will cover the years 2011 and 2012, will be submitted 30 calendar days after the regulations take effect or by Sept. 1, 2013, whichever is later. The POUs’ first compliance report will be submitted to the energy commission by July 1, 2014, and will outline the utilities’ progress from 2011-2013.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.