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Are California’s alternative energy programs headed for a blackout?

The moon rises behind wind turbines on May 5, 2012 near Palm Springs, California.
The moon rises behind wind turbines on May 5, 2012 near Palm Springs, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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In a report released Monday, government watchdog agency the Little Hoover Commission raised concerns about California’s ambitious alternative energy plans.  The state is legally mandated to ensure that one-third of our energy be derived from renewable sources by 2020.

The commission’s concern is that we’re mired in a patchwork of incompatible programs and policies to develop wind and solar power, and that those programs are mismanaged, disorganized and ultimately unsustainable.  The report also points fingers at the California Public Utilities Commission for not being forthcoming about the long-term costs of power agreements that they say lock in “unnecessarily high prices.”  The LHC recommends that the Governor’s office create an integrated and comprehensive office to prioritize and address the state’s various energy policies. If not, they warn, Californians can expect soaring energy costs and depletion of natural resources.

How realistic is it to achieve 33% renewable energy by 2020?  Are we on the right path? Or does California need an alternative energy overhaul?


Stuart Drown,  executive director, Little Hoover Commission; The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state oversight agency whose mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Edward Randolph, energy division director, California Public Utilities Commission