California's Renewable Portfolio Standard Clears Hurdles Moving Forward to Final Vote

The RPS bill that would increase California’s share of electricity coming from renewables to 33 percent (SBX1 2) surmounted two critical hurdles over the past few days. Last Thursday, the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee voted out SBX1 2 unamended on a vote of 10 to 3; and yesterday the Assembly Natural Resources Committee also voted 6 to 3 to move the bill forward unchanged.

The final committee vote on SBX1 2 will be in the Assembly Appropriations Committee either tomorrow or Thursday.  The Assembly floor (and final) vote is expected sometime next week depending on budget negotiations.

Of historic note, Wesley Chesbro's Natural Resources Committee hearing was graced by the presence of Senator Byron Sher. Senator Sher is the author of SB 1078, California’s first RPS bill that established 2017 as the year that the state's residents would get at least one-fifth of their electricity from renewable energy resources.  Many predicted that the state would fail to meet this goal. They said it was too expensive and difficult and couldn't be done.

Just nine years later, sitting in the hearing room, one could almost see Senator Sher's metaphorical hand resting on Senator Simitian's shoulder as he delivered his brief closing statement.

If signed into law, Senator Simitian's bill will move the SB 1078 target date up four years to 2013. By doing so, SBX1 2 will formally acknowledge what everyone clearly accepts. Namely, the issue of whether California can or should get to 20 percent renewables is no longer in question. Getting to 20 percent four years early is now essentially a foregone conclusion. In fact, many utilities will get there sooner.

I think that's something that's often lost in the debate. The Sher RPS program will have achieved its goal in ten or eleven years instead of fifteen. By my lights, that counts as a resounding success.

Not only that, everything that went into the RPS effort over the past decade -- the research, the investment, the analysis, the planning, the contracting, the siting, the permitting, and of course the daily efforts of tens of thousands of workers -- has given California a head start on achieving our next RPS goal. Thanks to the bracing tailwind from Senator Sher, we are already well our way to a future when fully one-third of our electricity will come from renewable energy resources that don't run out.

Thank you Senator Sher.