Library filed under Impact on Economy from California
California's push to supersize its renewable energy standards could drive electricity rates higher for Northwest consumers, strain the west's transmission and hydroelectric systems, and create a host of thorny policy issues. The California Assembly passed a pair of bills Friday to create the nation's most aggressive renewable energy mandate. It would require utilities to meet one third of their customers' needs with green energy such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2020.
Sharon Reid and her husband, Dewitt, a retired Marine major, pay $170 in a typical month ---- and some months more than $230 ---- to cool and light their 2,000-square-foot, tri-level home in Vista. Without making any changes in lifestyle, their electricity bill is likely to increase by $45 a month on average as California overhauls its power grid and tries to shift the source of one-third of its electricity from fossil fuels to green sources by 2020.
Burbank Water and Power officials are urging the City Council to oppose legislation that would force them to produce a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, arguing the requirements would drive up utility rates and strain existing electric transmission assets that the state is in short supply of.
California's push for renewable power could prove costly to consumers. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to get one-third of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 could cost $115 billion in new infrastructure, according to a report released Friday by the California Public Utilities Commission. Last year, a similar report from the commission estimated the cost at $60 billion.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was all smiles in 2006 when he signed into law the toughest anti-global-warming regulations of any state. Mr. Schwarzenegger and his green supporters boasted that the regulations would steer California into a prosperous era of green jobs, renewable energy, and technological leadership. Instead, since 2007 -- in anticipation of the new mandates -- California has led the nation in job losses.
The nearly 8 percent rate increase Redding Electric Utility will seek Tuesday for next year and 2010 could be just the beginning of a long, steady and rather steep cost climb for customers. Rate forecasts through 2014 show REU imposing identical 7.84 percent increases each year while still chewing through wads of cash. ...Redding has made up for the lost hydropower, in part, by commissioning a pair of large gas-fired turbines at its plant on Clear Creek Road. The utility has also entered long-term contracts for wind and biomass power. The wind and biomass have allowed REU to meet state renewable energy mandates. But all three power sources cost more than twice as much as hydropower, adding $10.5 million each year on average to REU's fuel tab, Hauser said.
If California expands its renewable power generation to be a third of electricity delivered in the state by 2020, it may cost $60 billion, the state's utility regulator said in a report issued on Thursday. It is more costly to make electricity with renewable power -- solar, wind, geothermal and other sources that emit no or low amounts of global-warming greenhouse gases -- than with natural gas, nuclear and coal power plants. ...On Tuesday, California voters overwhelmingly -- 65 percent of the vote -- rejected a statewide ballot measure that would have required 50 percent of power to be generated from renewables by 2025.
Unless the DWP moves quickly to lock in contracts with alternative energy providers, it risks paying exponentially higher rates for green power to meet a 2010 deadline to double its renewable energy supply. Despite assurances from the Department of Water and Power, some city leaders are skeptical the utility will be able to meet and sustain the 20 percent renewable energy mandate set by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. ...customers are already paying more to cover the transition to green power. The DWP can and has tacked on a surcharge of as much as 4 percent a year to customer bills to cover renewable energy and natural gas expenses.
California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country Established in 2002 under Senate Bill 1078 and accelerated in 2006 under Senate Bill 107, California's RPS obligates investor‐owned utilities (IOUs), energy service providers (ESPs) and community choice aggregators (CCAs) to procure an additional 1% of retail sales per year from eligible renewable sources until 20% is reached, no later than 2010.The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) are jointly responsible for implementing the program.
Evidence is everywhere, though, that the population of California is growing and will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. If we do not create more energy, the per capita amount available will decline. ...Proposed alternate sources of energy - wind, solar or bio-sourced - have their virtues and their shortcomings. To imagine that they would somehow supplant current sources of energy or might be sufficient to supply future demand, is the product of a fervent puerile imagination. (The technical term for this kind of thinking is "scientific sciolism,") ... To date, the execution of the alternate energy resource program has distorted market realities, causing consumer prices to go up directly and indirectly.
California's investor-owned utilities will be allowed to pass on to customers the costs of building lines to transmit renewable power from sources such as wind farms, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled Thursday.
Carpinteria CEO envisions a future powered by turbines. With oil and gas prices relentlessly rising -- and the cost of producing power from sustainable energy sources continuing to fall -- it appears the time is fast approaching when alternative energy begins to make good economic as well as environmental sense.