California's new law requiring its utilities to get a third of their energy from renewable sources has changed the landscape for a group of public utilities in southern California: in Burbank, in Pasadena, in Glendale, and the biggie, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. (Check out Air Talk - we talked about the RPS today.)
Not only did the previous state-level driver - the Governator's executive order mandating 20% renewables - apply solely to the investor owned utilities like Edison...it was an executive order. Vaguely unenforceable, immediately revocable by anyone who sat in that chair next. This one's for reals.
The news comes after LA City Controller Wendy Greuel released a scathing 68-page audit of DWP's renewable energy program - the one Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa congratulated the department for last year. It made its target last year, she writes - the whole report is available on SCPR's website. "It appears that this was likely due more to luck than to strong planning and policies," Greuel wrote. "Our auditors estimate that the DWP only achieved a 20% renewable energy portfolio due to abnormally cool temperatures and higher than expected wind at Department owned wind farms," she argues. This year the renewable energy percentage will likely drop back.
A few weeks back I talked to Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace International - a pretty wide ranging interview that included him throwing down with Facebook on their use of coal power.
Naidoo told me:
Their electricity needs will multiply at least by three to four times what it is now. So how they plan and invest, in terms of thinking about their energy needs, is critically, critically important. Facebook, in terms of its new data center in Pineville, Oregon, has some good things about it. However, to have a dependency that the majority of the generation of the electricity is coming from coal just doesn't make sense."
After Naidoo stepped to, Facebook has stepped up - its publicity, anyway - on the Pineville site.
In a blog post on FB, FB VP Jonathan Heiliger wrote of the company's redesign from the ground up: