California: Gov. Brown calls for 50% renewables, more PV in Golden State

Gov. Brown, who was reelected to a new four-year term in November, said in his inaugural address that while California was on track to meet its goal of covering one-third of its electricity with renewables by 2020, “it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.”

California’s three large investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric – supplied approximately 23% of retail electricity with renewable resources in 2013, according to the state’s energy regulator.

"I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years: increase from one-third to 50% our electricity derived from renewable sources; reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50%; double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.”

Said Brown, “I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, microgrids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles."

Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of trade group California Solar Energy Industries Association, said in response that the solar industry “stands ready to build Governor Brown’s vision of a better, stronger, cleaner California."

According to the trade group, “2014 is wrapping up as the biggest year for solar power in history, California is on the brink of achieving its ‘Million Solar Roofs’ goal two years ahead of schedule, and, the industry employs more people than the traditional investor-owned utilities combined."

The group said its policy priorities for 2015 include expanding and protecting net energy metering, protecting solar-friendly consumer electricity rates, reducing permitting costs, extending rebates for solar water heating and extending federal tax credits beyond 2016.

“Getting the policies right is critical to solar power’s continued growth and success,” said Del Chiaro. “Entrenched special interests and legacy industries continue to push back on the inevitable clean energy revolution making it imperative that policy makers get the details right in the years ahead."