California: 16 Percent Clean Energy – WOOT!

Beginning way back in 2002 under Gray Davis, building under his successor Arnold Schwarzenegger and accelerating further under current Gov. Jerry Brown, California has been in hot pursuit of renewable energy. And according to a new California Energy Commission report [PDF] flagged by EnergyBiz, the state is “on track” to reach an interim goal on the way to getting one-third of its electricity from renewables by 2020.

According to the report, around 16 percent of the energy sold in California in 2010 came from renewable sources, putting it in good position to reach the next renewable portfolio standard (RPS) target of 20 percent per year for the years 2011 through 2013. The report said 2,600 megawatts (MW) of new renewable capacity went into commercial operation since the RPS was established and “publicly owned utilities have added another 2,000 MW of renewable capacity since the RPS program began.”

california renewable portfolio standard

image via Shutterstock

All told, renewable generating capacity in California reached 10,000 MW in 2010, the report said, with more than 4,300 MW coming from utility‐scale renewables, 1,700 MW from wholesale distributed generation systems and 1,400 MW from customer‐side distributed systems.

While Brown is supportive of utility-scale renewables development, he’s made distributed systems a key focus of his efforts, setting a target of 12,000 MW of capacity by 2020. Advocates tout the inherent security of distributed solar, where a particular system failure has minimal impact, and say it can also be more efficient than the giant developments, which require transmission that is expensive and reduces efficiency.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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