California Commits to Renewable Energy

The Golden State invests $3.1 billion in energy efficiency and will require state utilities to get a third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

| October 2, 2009

Solar panels on high school

Solar panels provide electricity for Lick Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.


California’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency got two major boosts recently.

For renewable energy, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order on Sept. 15 requiring the state’s utilities to get a third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The state currently has a 20 percent renewable power requirement by 2010 for investor-owned utilities only, but the executive order extends and increases that mandate, while also expanding it to include public power utilities and other electricity providers.

The governor’s directive calls for the California Air Resources Board to adopt new regulations to implement the renewable mandate by July 31, 2010. Three years ago, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill to achieve a 25 percent cut in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and the new renewable energy requirement will help to meet that goal.

While making a substantial commitment to renewable energy, the state has also launched the largest investment in energy efficiency ever made by a state. On Sept. 24, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a $3.1 billion slate of ratepayer-supported energy efficiency programs for 2010 through 2012. The effort will be administered by California’s investor-owned utilities, including Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company and the Southern California Gas Company. One benefit cited by CPUC is the launching of the nation’s largest home retrofit program. Under the California Statewide Program for Residential Energy Efficiency, the state aims to achieve a 20 percent energy savings for up to 130,000 homes over a three-year span.

The CPUC will also provide $175 million to encourage the construction of net-zero-energy homes and commercial buildings. That portion of the funding will help with design assistance, incentives for new buildings that exceed the state’s energy code, and research and demonstration of new energy technologies. In addition, the CPUC program sets aside $260 million in funds for 64 cities, counties and regional agencies, targeting retrofits of public buildings as well as leading-edge energy efficiency opportunities.

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