On Tuesday, state regulators announced that California’s three big investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San DiegoGas & Electric and Southern California Edison – had reached a mandated target – called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to obtain at least 20% of the electricity they sell from renewable sources.
In 2011, the three utilities collectively secured 20.6% of the electricity sold to retail customers from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable power generation. Southern California led the field with 21.1% of sales coming from renewables, followed by SDG&G at 20.8% and PG&E at 20.1%.
In fact, “2011 showed the greatest year-to-year increase in the capacity of renewable generation achieving commercial operation since the beginning of the program, and 2012 is already on track to far surpass 2011,” stated the California Public Utilities Commission in a report released Tuesday.
Between 2003, when California set targets for renewable energy production, and 2011, the state has installed 2,871 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. This year alone, California is on course to add nearly another 2,800 megawatts, according to the utilities commission.
Altogether that’s enough electricity generation at peak output to equal the production of about five huge nuclear power plants. And a good thing, too, given that one of the state’s two nuclear power plants, San Onofre, has been offline for six months due to a radiation leak with no prospects for restarting anytime soon.
The utilities, which supply the bulk of electricity to California, have seven-and-a-half years to hit their next RPS target – obtaining 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
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