Hoping to boost the state’s efforts to meet aggressive renewable energy targets, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law three separate bills, helping school districts finance solar installations, restoring funding for a distributed-energy incentives and speeding the permitting process for clean energy development.
California’s renewable portfolio standard requires it to get one-third of its power from renewables by 2020 – that means about 20,0000 megawatts (MW) of clean power. Brown figures about 8,000 MW of that could come from utility-scale projects, such as giant wind farms and solar power plants, and 12,000 from localized development. The new legislation is mainly focused on the latter.
One of the bills, authored by Sen. Christine Kehoe (D- San Diego), authorizes an additional $200 million for the California Solar Initiative (CSI). While not aimed at exclusively at schools, CSI incentives have driven 900 megawatts of power installations, Brown’s office said, with much of it at schools. Brown signed the legislation in the San Joaquin Valley town of Fowler, at Marshall Elementary School, where solar panels slated for construction on parking structures and playground equipment are expected to save $439,000 in energy costs during the first year alone, the governor said.
Brown also signed legislation that allows the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to collect funding for the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) through December of 2014. Brown’s office said this program, begun in 2001, has provided over $619 million in rebates for the implementation of 348 MW of clean energy. In September, the CPUC laid out a plan to base program eligibility and awards on how much greenhouse-gas emissions distributed-energy projects put out compared to the grid-purchased electricity they replace.
The third bill signed by Brown requires the state’s Department of Fish and Game to speed up its permitting process for renewable energy projects, and also allows developers to pay a few for expedited review of their projects.