California is leading a “quiet revolution” in renewable electricity production, “setting an example its leaders hope the rest of the country, and other nations, will follow as they seek to cut emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide,” the New York Times reports.
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of California in terms of renewables,” said analyst William Nelson at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s like an experiment in terms of how quickly we can add solar to the grid.”
California has contracts in place that “virtually guarantee that the state will reach its goal of getting 33 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020, a number that does not include most home generation,” Gardiner writes. Its 2030 target of 50% renewable generation is within reach—with only a 3% to 5% increase in electricity prices, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.
“While per-unit prices are among the highest in the nation, stringent energy conservation measures have helped keep monthly bills $20 lower than the United States average,” the Times notes. And meanwhile, “a new industry of home solar panel installation and financing, spearheaded by companies like SolarCity and Sunrun, has sprung up in California, and many of those companies have expanded elsewhere in the country.”
The article points to shifting power production patterns that have sometimes forced utilities to shut down available clean energy sources. But the state has mandated 1.3 GW of electricity storage by 2020, and the reliability problems that some industry analysts predicted have not materialized.
“We’ve seen no impact,” said David Olsen of the California Independent System Operator. “When we get to 40%, 50%, that will definitely be an issue. But we know what the technical issues are and we’re planning for them. We’re highly confident that we will be able to operate the grid reliably when it is dominated by renewable energy.” (h/t to Clean Energy Review and clean energy investment specialist Jeff Passmore for pointing us to this story)