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For immediate release: July 10, 2003
Media Contact: Percy Della - (916) 654-4989

California's Ample Renewable Potential
Will Help State Meet Clean Power Mandate by 2017

Sacramento - There will be enough renewable electricity generation in California to allow the state's investor-owned utility companies to meet a mandated 20 percent renewable energy requirement by 2017, according to the California Energy Commission.

The Commission has released a staff preliminary assessment of expected electricity supplies from wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, and other renewable sources within California. Commission staff made the preliminary assessment to help the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) develop a renewable energy transmission plan to bring renewable energy to consumers.

Senate Bill 1078, authored by Senator Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto), established the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) for California. It requires a retail seller of electricity (investor owned utilities and direct access providers) to increase their use of renewable resources by at least one percent per year, until 20 percent of their retail sales is procured from renewables by 2017.

"California's abundance of commercially available renewable resources would suggest that our 20 percent goal could largely be achieved from projects that have already been proposed," said Commissioner John Geesman, chair of the Commission's Renewables Committee. "We have within our grasp the ability to change California's electricity supply mix."

By nearly doubling the state's existing base of renewable resources, the RPS will help decrease California's dependence on natural gas-fired power plants. Adding renewables to the system can also improve air quality by reducing emissions, including greenhouse gases.

Senate Bill 1038, also authored by Senator Sher, requires the CPUC to develop a comprehensive transmission plan for renewable electricity generation facilities. The bill also requires the Energy Commission to develop a final renewable energy resources appraisal that describes California's renewable resource potential. Both documents must be submitted to the state legislature by December 1, 2003.

The Commission's preliminary assessment will help the CPUC target its transmission plans by the type of energy resources produced in areas like Tehachapi, the Salton Sea, San Gorgonio Pass, Altamont Pass, and Siskiyou County.

Commission staff estimate that by 2017, the state's investor owned utilities and energy service providers will require an additional 21,000 gigawatt-hours a year of renewable electricity generation to meet the 20 percent RPS target.

The preliminary assessment noted that renewable energy projects already in various stages of development could provide as much as 25,000 gigawatt-hours per year, more than enough to meet the RPS demand. In addition, staff said that in-state renewable energy production could meet the RPS goal without exhausting California's total potential wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar energy resources.

The Commission's preliminary assessment is available on-line at


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