Schwarzenegger signs order raising RPS, renewable energy standards

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Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger looks on during a press conference at the California Institution for Men prison on August 19, 2009 in Chino, California.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order that sets the highest standard in the country for renewable energy in the state's power mix.

KPCC’s Molly Peterson has the story.

The move commits utilities in the state to seek at least one-third of their power from renewable sources within 11 years. Before the end of the session, lawmakers in Sacramento also passed bills that establish what they call the “renewable portfolio standard.”

Schwarzenegger will veto that legislation because, he said, its rules were too complex and would slow the import of renewable energy from out of state. "Now, not only would this stifle the competition but it also would drive up the prices. But there is also protectionism – and I am totally against protectionist policies," Schwarzenegger said.

The governor added the California Air Resources Board would work fast to craft a regulation with specifics for the renewable portfolio plan. Schwarzenegger aimed to blunt criticism from environmentalists, Democrats, and some utilities that future governors could reverse his executive order.

Mary Nichols is chair of the Air Resources Board. She says her agency will ask everyone – not just supporters of the governor’s decision – to weigh in on the plan. "And remember, 33 percent is not a ceiling, it’s a start," Nichols said. "We will need to continue to explore and develop renewable energy resources well beyond 2020 if we’re going to continue to keep pace with continued economic and population growth and meet our security needs as a country."

California’s new renewables standard is more stringent than that of other states, including Hawaii – where utilities will try to meet a 25 percent requirement within 11 years.

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