California legislates for new renewable energy targets

Earlier this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires utility companies operating in the state to get as much as 33% of their electricity from wind power, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020.

Prior to the new legislation, California had a 20% Renewables Portfolio Standard.

Brown said the new law will stimulate investment in green technologies in the state, create tens of thousands of new jobs, improve local air quality, promote energy independence, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the legislation will also ensure that California maintains its long-standing leadership in renewables and clean energy.

“While reaching a 33% renewables portfolio standard will be an important milestone, it is really just a starting point — a floor, not a ceiling,” Brown said in a letter to members of the California State Senate.

“Our state has enormous renewable resource potential. I would like to see us pursue even more far-reaching targets. With the amount of renewable resources coming on-line, and prices dropping, I think 40%, at reasonable cost, is well within our grasp in the near future.”

With almost 37 million people, California is the eighth largest economy in the world. The state was one of the first areas in the world to employ modern industrial-scale wind power projects, beginning in the early 1980s.

The new legislation was enthusiastically endorsed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “California understands the direct link between sound policy and renewable energy’s multiple benefits,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a press release. “A long-time leader in renewable energy, California has already seen the jobs and economic development that follow when the right policies, like a strong state renewable electricity standard, are put in place to create a stable business and investment environment.”

By Chris Rose,