New Legal Developments in California’s Booming Renewable Energy Market

Renewable energy advocates have many reasons to cheer recent legal developments in California. First, Governor Jerry Brown signed a quartet of renewable energy-related bills into law:

  • SB 43 creates a Green Tariff Shared Renewable Program. This program creates access to shared investment in renewable energy projects for customers that cannot build or install a system on their own. The program permits the development of up to 600 MW in shared renewable energy through 2018, of which at least 100 MW must be made available to residential customers.
  • SB 726 sets parameters on the state’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative. More recently, Governor Brown joined the Governors of Oregon and Washington and the Premier of British Columbia in signing a far-reaching climate pact. The new Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy commits its participants to put a price on carbon emissions, to work to slow ocean acidification, and to adopt rules encouraging greater use of alternative fuels and electric cars.
  • AB 1126 creates new standards to encourage the development of facilities to convert municipal solid waste into energy.
  • AB 327, seen by many as the most far-reaching renewable energy bill in California’s history, removes caps and other limits from the state’s net metering program, opening up the market to millions of new customers. The law also stipulates that the state’s current RPS target of 33% renewables by 2020 is a floor, not a ceiling, thereby giving comfort to the state’s utilities that previously were wary about exceeding the 33% threshold.

Second, the California Public Utilities Commission recently established a target for the state’s investor owned utilities to develop 1,325 MW of energy storage by 2020, with installations complete by 2024. This decision implements AB 2514 which aimed to accelerate the integration of energy storage mechanisms in the California grid. The state has high hopes for energy storage as a mechanism to expand the capacity of intermittent renewable energy sources, improve grid reliability and more efficiently manage energy resources.

Tonkon Torp’s energy lawyers have significant experience with complex energy projects, in California, the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. If you have any questions about these new requirements or any other energy law issue, please contact a member of our Energy practice group.

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