Environment & Science

California utilities could soon see requirements for 33 percent renewables by 2020

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Sacramento lawmakers have passed a bill that would require utilities in California to obtain a third of their energy from renewable sources.

Investor-owned utilities have aimed for a 20 percent renewable energy standard under an executive order. But current rules that mandate new solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower sources don’t apply to public utilities like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

And because present and future governors could rescind that order, a coalition of interests that includes environmentalists, energy producers, utilities and consumers has pushed for a law that they say will increase market stability. This new legislation would raise the bar, increasing the minimum requirement for renewables to 33 percent of every California utility’s energy mix within nine years.

The state Public Utilities Commission estimates that adding clean energy into the mix will cost millions of dollars. Backers of the standard say it’ll create jobs.

The state Assembly vote puts the bill on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown – who said during last year’s campaign that he supports the renewables standard.