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Summary:

Every week it seems like California’s utilities announce a new clean power contract — solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, wind power, even space solar. But according to a report from researchers at Black & Veatch, California utilities won’t be able to meet the state renewable portfolio […]

Every week it seems like California’s utilities announce a new clean power contract — solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, wind power, even space solar. But according to a report from researchers at Black & Veatch, California utilities won’t be able to meet the state renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which demands that 20 percent of their electricity comes from clean power by 2010 — at least in terms of actual electrons delivered.

Over the past several years the state utilities, like PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have been rushing to sign up various contracts with clean power providers in an attempt to reach the 2010 target. But as Mark Griffith managing director at Black & Veatch put it in an interview with me, the contracts might be in place but the projects won’t be online in time. “Utilities are making the effort,” explained Griffith, but projects can take a long time to build, particularly getting the transmission lines built.

While it’s already 2010, even by the end of the year utilities won’t have enough clean power projects built and delivering power to meet the state requirements. Many in the utility and power industries have predicted that this would happen over the past few years, which is why California utilities have tried to overshoot the percentage total for their contracts (i.e., not contracting 20 percent of clean power but 30 percent.) “Just because you have a contract doesn’t mean that project will work out,” said Griffith. (See PG&E’s former contract with a geothermal provider that went cold).

California utilities have also been asking the state’s Public Utilities Commission for years to allow them to buy renewable energy credits without having to purchase the actual energy generated from renewable sources in order to meet California’s RPS.

Missing the 2010 RPS deadline will increase pressure on utilities for the next deadline: California says that utilities need to provide 33 percent clean power by 2020. Black & Veatch says that the California utilities will also miss that later target if only in-state clean power is counted (meaning utilities can’t ship in clean power from out of state, like a Nevada solar farm, to meet the RPS.)

The in-state/outta state issue is an important component for California regulators to deal with in the next couple of years. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently killed proposals that would have put limits on how much how much of the 2020 RPS utilities could meet with power generated out of state. Proponents of keeping clean power in the state are arguing that the restriction would boost more green jobs in the state.

Wherever California utilities end up getting their clean power, clearly utilities have been struggling. It’s a new energy world and it’s in a state of flux. A note from Griffith was the most telling: “The energy industry’s New Normal faces a series of fundamental risks.”

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  1. Wind Technician Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Projects have been lined up for wind farm expansions for the past 3 years. When these start coming online in 2010, they will help California get back on track for meeting 25% renewable energy generation by 2025. This is expected to increase employment in the sector by an average growth rate of 15% per year each0 year over the next decade. For more information about wind turbine jobs and wind tech training, do a Google search for California Wind Tech or click my name.

  2. Green Ink: Magical Climate Thinking, Offshore Wind, and Chinese Coal – Environmental Capital – WSJ Thursday, January 14, 2010

    [...] [...]

  3. Agreed, but there is another side to the issue of making green energy.

    If every small business would could reduce their energy footprint by say 15% – nothing drastic – turn off unused appliances – replace lights with efficient lights – change temperatures 15% (up or down) according to the season.

    If California produced say 30% clean power a short miss, the 15% percentage reduction would make this 30% an actual 35.294% of the new amounts required to service the market.

    My point is, consumers and small businesses, please join in and make the savings needed to play your part.

    If you need some help, start with this posting on energy awareness.

    http://open4energy.com/forum/home/awa/home_energy_awareness_0910141515

    And while I am at it, please avoid the scams being promoted – google “energy saving scams” and read what open4energy has posted. It is real information. The search results have been hijacked, and the offenders are using adSense to distribute their marketing in every corner you look. From DIY solar panels to windmills to serious power facttor correction misinformation.

  4. Earth2Tech Week in Review Sunday, January 17, 2010

    [...] Cali’s Utilities Won’t Be Able to Meet 2010 State RPS: California utilities won’t be able to meet the state renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which demands that 20 percent of their electricity comes from clean power by 2010, according to a new report. [...]

  5. California Utilities Expected To Miss 2010 RPS Target | GetSolar.com Blog Sunday, January 17, 2010

    [...] their electricity from renewable energy sources like solar, wind or geothermal. The news comes from Earth2Tech, which reports that even if utilities have set the necessary projects in place, they won’t be [...]

  6. California’s Utilities Won’t Be Able to Meet 2010 State RPS « Happywatts – Power to the people Sunday, January 17, 2010

    [...] January 18, 2010 · Filed under Uncategorized &#183 Tagged utility, California Happy Watts – Every week it seems like California’s utilities announce a new clean power contract — solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, wind power, even space solar. But according to a report from researchers at Black & Veatch, California utilities won’t be able to meet the state renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which demands that 20 percent of their electricity comes from clean power by 2010 — at least in terms of actual electrons delivered. via Earth2Tech>> [...]

  7. Rise & Shine: January 14, 2010 | Sweet Solar Home Friday, January 22, 2010

    [...] Cali’s Utilities Won’t Be Able to Meet 2010 State RPS While it’s already 2010, even by the end of the year utilities won’t have enough clean power projects built and delivering power to meet the state requirements. [...]

  8. Raymond Raczkowski Monday, February 15, 2010

    Katie if your looking for the energy solution see http://www.AlphaOmegaProject.com I’m an Advance Planning Engineer. It’s not hard to efficiently blend 100% Clean Energy into our life style.
    The large Megawatt wind turbines are helpful. Alpha Omega’s plan is using the current Highway System. It produces energy were its needed saving the losses of transmission lines. It will also give everyone 20% better mpg including truckers. Even electric cars will drive 20% farther on a charge.
    Alpha Omega concept is to “make life better, doing more with what we have, by all working together”.

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