Calif senate passes bill to expand green power requirements

LOS ANGELES, March 31 Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:27pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES, March 31 (Reuters) - The California senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would require renewable power to account for 33 percent of electricity delivered by the state's utilities by 2020.

Now the bill goes to the state assembly, the senate counterpart in the two-tier legislature.

The senate passed the bill 21-16.

Some 28 U.S. states including California have existing "renewable portfolio standards" that set various targets for green power deliveries. There is no national standard.

Current California law requires that by 2010 a fifth of the power delivered by the state's investor-owned utilities be generated by renewable sources.

The new bill would also cover municipal utilities.

None of the state's three major investor-owned utilities are expected to meet the 20 percent target for deliveries by 2010, but state energy regulators have signaled that as long as contracts for the renewable power are in hand, the utilities will not be penalized.

The biggest U.S. municipal utility is the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. The LADWP has already set a target for 2020 that 35 percent of its power come from renewable generation.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has, for several years, been in favor of a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. Renewable power can be solar, wind, biomass, geothermal or small hydro projects.

The state's big investor-owned utilities are Pacific Gas & Electric Co, a unit of PG&E Corp (PCG.N), Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International (EIX.N),and San Diego Gas & Electric Co, a unit of Sempra Energy (SRE.N)

All three have expressed support for the renewable power goals. One of them, Southern California Edison, said on Tuesday that it supports the 33 percent by 2020 target as long as transmission is in place to remote areas where renewable power is generated.

SCE said that in 2008 it had the highest percentage among U.S. utilities in terms of delivering renewable power -- 16 percent -- to its customers. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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