California’s New 600 MW Renewables Law Targets Distributed Solar, Low-Income Areas

SI Staff
Written by Michael Puttre
on October 10, 2013 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed shared renewable energy legislation that requires the state's large public utilities to develop an additional 600 MW of renewable energy generating capacity. The added capacity is over and above the existing 33% renewable portfolio standard.

The enacting of SB 43, also known as the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, requires each of the big three public utilities in the state to file an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to detail its plan to acquire the requisite renewable energy generating capacity. These so-called"green tariff plans," cover each utility's proportionate share of the total 600 MW of new renewable energy generating capacity called for under the law.

According to the law, renewable energy generating facilities specified in a participating utility's green tariff plan must not be larger than 20 MW. Of the 600 MW capped total, 100 MW of the added capacity would come from facilities rated 1 MW or smaller located in environmentally distressed or economically disadvantaged areas. Moreover, generating capacity is to be built as close to consumers as is practical.

Language in the legislation makes it clear that one of its goals is to enable low-income ratepayers, renters, homeowners and business owners unable to install solar power for themselves to have access to renewable energy. One section reads," To the extent possible, a participating utility shall actively market the utility's green tariff shared renewables program to low-income and minority communities and customers."

Customers would be able to purchase renewable energy from their utilities not to exceed 100% of their annual consumption. No given customer would be able to subscribe to more than 2 MW, although there are exceptions for federal, state and local governments, along with schools, colleges and universities. Participating customers will pay a rate established by the CPUC.

The CPUC has until July 1, 2014, to approve or reject a participating utility's green tariff plan.

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