Cleaner Energy Comes to Cali

New bill will enable utilities to integrate renewable energy

California made big strides this week when it passed legislature that will increase the use of renewable energy in the state to more than 50% and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings. The implementation of this bill is designed to foster collaborative efforts with large utilities companies in the state.

This is big news for the Golden State, which has been recently maligned for its environmental awareness due to severe drought and air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, California is home to the top five cities with the most polluted air- Los Angeles, Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento. But as Lauren Navarro and Tim O’Connor of the Environmental Defense Fund reported Monday, action is being taken towards the reversal and further prevention of this.

The bill is called the SB 350, passed by state legislature and the Senate, and it contains two main provisions to cleanse California’s energy emissions. One- it pledges to increase their renewable energy mix to over 50% by the year 2030. Two- it aims to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings by 50% by the same year.

“SB 350 makes these standards permanent, trackable, and enforceable by enacting them into law and building on the accountability mechanisms already in existence to ensure they are fully implemented,” according to California Senator Kevin de Leon.

Major utilities companies hope to benefit by integrating this blueprint into their plans. The “Big Three”: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, intend to do this through Distribution Resource Plans (DRPs). These are guidelines for major utilities companies that enable them to use more efficient resources, such as rooftop solar paneling and electric vehicles, onto the grid. According to the EDF’s report, “each investor-owned utility in California is required to develop a DRP, and the big three submitted their initial plans on July 1, 2015 – a milestone in and of itself.”

To take advantage of this opportunity, SB 350 requires utilities to put together portfolios – using zero-carbon resources as much as they reasonably can through integrated resource planning. In other words, it requires utilities to plan how they will build a truly clean grid. This approach supports a greater role for the use of clean, people-powered resources, including demand response, electric vehicles, and energy storage.

*Don’t miss our article on San Diego utilities events, in our upcoming October issue!

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