On September 23, 2010, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) passed a renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”) that will require 33 percent of the electricity sold in California to come from renewable energy.   The new standard was created in response to the Governor’s Renewable Electricity Standard Order in 2009, and the state law Assembly Bill 32, the law seeking to bring emissions down to 1990 levels by the year 2020.  

The state executive order directed the CARB to work with the state Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, the California Independent System Operator, and any other agency to develop the 33 percent standard by July 31, 2010.  However, that date was pushed back to give the state legislature a chance to pass a bill implementing the new standard, but the bill never passed. 

The new standard will apply to both investor owned utilities (“IOUs”) and public power utilities.  The current state 20 percent RPS only applies to IOUs, but for small electricity providers that sell less than 200,000 MW per year, the standard requires recordkeeping and reporting rules.  The new standard will gradually increase the RPS standard, so only 20 percent of electricity must come from renewable energy by 2014.  After that, the state RPS is 24 percent by 2017 and 28 percent by 2019.  The new standard is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 12 to 13 million metric tons once the 33 percent threshold is met.

The CARB news release on the new RPS is available here.