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PG&E to Miss Renewable Power Goals

Although not wholly unexpected, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will not meet the renewable power mandates required under California Law this year, according to a March 1 article by the San Francisco Business Times. While PG&E will come close, it expects only 17 to 19 percent of its electricity will come from renewable sources in 2010 — just short of the 20 percent target required under the law.

Interestingly, PG&E gets at least 51 percent of its power from no-emissions hydroelectric and nuclear power sources, but unlike wind and solar power facilities those sources aren’t considered renewable under California law.

PG&E officials echo complaints heard throughout the industry that a weak climate for financing these projects and long permitting odysseys have prevented further development of wind, solar and biomass projects. Even so, the amount of renewable power coming from these generation sources have risen steadily in the past years.

At the same time, there has been some movement in the state Legislature to increase renewable energy mandates to 33 percent in 2020 — an even steeper hurdle for California utilities. But one such bill that passed the California Assembly and Senate, SB 14, was vetoed last October by Governor Schwarzenegger and it remains unclear whether those goals will be set in stone by state law.

On the bright side, there has been much news pointing to an increasing pool of renewable energy for PG&E and its California counterparts like Southern California Edison. A Feb. 23 article in the San Francisco Chronicle noted that numerous solar power projects have recently received federal financing and that PG&E and Southern California Edison have signed up as customers for these new generation facilities.

Problems still persist in a number of areas, not the least of which are a lack of financing, uncertainty for government regulatory schemes and tax incentives, long permitting struggles and even the dearth of adequate transmission lines to transport electricity from where it is generated to the end users — California consumers.

Categories: Climate Change