RPS: What renewables count, and how much?

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Debate over how to encourage renewable power is heating up in Sacramento. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports on standards for utilities that could become the toughest in the nation.

Molly Peterson: California requires investor-owned utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by the end of next year. Late last Friday, legislators passed a pair of bills that would push the percentage of renewable power up to 33 percent.

Southern California Edison's Stuart Hemphill says he likes that idea, but he says utilities like Edison need more transmission lines to connect to the national grid and to out-of-state energy. He says that will take time.

Stuart Hemphill: We need to rely on both in-state and out-of-state resources. We simply cannot meet the goals given the time it takes to build transmission.

Peterson: One key dispute is how much of the renewable energy utilities can come from out-of-state and how to account for its benefits. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says the bills are too complicated and would distort competition for renewable power in California. A spokesman for the governor says he's considering other ways to require utilities to develop more renewable energy, like an executive order.