California PUC ALJ Orders Utilities to Supplement RPS Plans

A California Public Utilities Commission judge issued a draft decision conditionally approving the respective plans of the state's three investor-owned utilities to implement the California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program, but required them to supplement their plans with further information on issues such as transmission planning and contingency planning. 

California has the nation's most ambitious RPS program.  It requires the utilities to achieve a 20% RPS goal by 2010.  Moreover, the judge cited the PUC's plan of working toward Governor Schwarzenegger's declared goal of procuring 33% of the state's electricity from renewable resources by 2020.  This focus on renewable energy presents a stiff test for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and their long-term procurement plans were found lacking in many respects by the judge.   

Connecting areas where resources such as wind can be harnessed with load centers into which power must be delivered is often costly and a major challenge for renewable energy development.  Not surprisingly, because of that challenge each of the California utilities discussed the need for transmission in their plans, but the judge found their plans for new transmission insufficient and ordered that they be supplemented.   The utilities are required to supplement their long-term plans by early October.