CPUC utilities meet 2016 renewable energy targets, report


The whitepaper is in line with Public Utilities Code Section 913.4 which mandates the CPUC to compile an annual report highlighting how energy retailers are complying with the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). The report is filed every November.

The report highlights utilities’ progress on RPS procurement activities, RPS activities and implementation, and projected ability to meet RPS under cost limitations. The whitepaper also discusses barriers and policy recommendations to achieving RPS.

  • California’s electrical corporations met the 25% RPS requirement for 2016, and in many cases, substantially exceeded this requirement. For instance, PG&E generated 32.9% from renewables, SCE 28.2% and SDG&E expanded its portfolio to 43.2%.
  • The large investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have executed renewable electricity contracts necessary to exceed 2020’s 33% RPS requirement.
  • The IOUs’ aggregated forecast projects they will meet the 2030 RPS requirement of 50% by 2020.
  • Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) and the small and multi-jurisdictional utilities (SMJU) report compliance with current RPS requirements, and forecast that they will meet or exceed 2020’s 33% RPS requirement.
  • The RPS programme has helped achieve large reductions in the cost of renewable electricity: between 2008 and 2016, the price of utility scale solar contracts reported to the CPUC have gone down 77%, and between 2007 and 2015 reported prices of wind contracts have gone down 47%.
  • The large IOUs have the most diverse renewable energy portfolio mix, the CCAs have a moderately diverse renewable energy portfolio mix and SMJUs have the least diverse portfolio mixes.
  • The three large IOUs have installed 15,193 MW of renewable capacity since 2003.

Managed by the CPUC and the California Energy Commission for IOUs, CCAs, electric service providers (ESPs)and publicly-owned utilities to generate half of their energy from renewables by 2030, the RPS programme aims to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution;
  • Stabilise electricity rates;
  • Diversify the energy generation portfolio;
  • Meet resource adequacy requirements; and
  • Contribute to the reliable operation of the electrical grid.

According to the report, IOUs served 75% of consumers in the state in 2016. Utilities’ renewable energy progress has been set for review six times under the RPS programme.

In 2013 energy firms were mandated to generate 20% of their energy from clean sources, 25% in 2016, 33% in 2020, 40% in 2024, 45% in 2027 and 50% in 2030.

In 2017, IOUs have engaged in the Renewable Auction Mechanism, Bioenergy Renewable Auction Mechanism, Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff and the Bioenergy Market Adjusting Tariff programmes to procure renewable energy.

Some of the challenges experienced in implementing the RPS programme include:

  • Uncertainty in IOU Load Forecasts
  • Increased Amounts of Renewables have Resulted in Increased Incidents of Curtailment
  • Stranded Costs Resulting from Increased Departing Load Could Fall to IOU Customers
  • The ReMAT Program Has Experienced Significant Project Terminations and Uneven Market Interest
  • The BioMAT Program Appears to Have Limited Market Interest.


Image credit: 123rf.