California, with its massive population, is probably the single most state which can benefit from large growth in renewable energy projects. The state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is actually seeing impressive growth to this regard, announcing recently that for the first quarter of 2010 it saw a record number of renewable energy contracts, or projects, submitted to it for approval from investor-owned utilities that in the past would have covered an entire year – not just a few months.
The CPUC said that 37 renewable contracts were submitted to it specifically, which is more than the number of contracts it approves in an entire year, on average. Furthermore, in a quarterly report it submitted to the state’s legislature on renewable energy, it said that the utilities are “requesting approval of more than 50 contracts before the end of the year, which is twice as much as the utilities have requested in prior years.” Not surprisingly, over a dozen of these contacts could potentially make use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.
It is also interesting to note that California, according to the CPUC, had the utilities collectively serve up around 15 percent of their electricity output last year via renewable energy projects. This is up slightly from 2008. A number of factors account for this, including newly installed renewable capacity and customers using less electricity in 2009 than in 2008. Southern California Edison led the pack of utilities last year in terms of energy output with renewable energy, followed by Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric.
The CPUC, based upon renewable energy contracts approved to date, believes that utilities collectively could be outputting over 21 percent of their electricity via renewable energy by 2011.