Renewable Energy

22.5%Percentage of power from eligible renewable resources delivered to customers in 2013

PG&E continues to provide some of the nation’s cleanest electric power, including a growing supply of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, small hydro and various forms of bioenergy. In fact, more than half of the electricity we deliver to our customers comes from greenhouse gas-free resources. In 2013, we reached an important milestone—delivering 22.5 percent of our power from eligible renewable resources and staying on track to meet the state’s clean energy goals for 2020 and beyond.

Our Approach

We use a variety of approaches to achieve California’s ambitious renewable energy goals, including using competitive solicitations to procure renewable energy from third parties and owning renewables projects ourselves. As we grow our clean energy portfolio, we are working collaboratively with regulators, environmental organizations and other stakeholders to do so in a way that is affordable for customers.

California’s Renewable Energy Targets

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) sets a target for the state’s investor-owned utilities, publicly-owned utilities, energy service providers and community choice aggregators to deliver 33 percent of their electricity from eligible renewable resources by the end of 2020. The target is measured by the percentage of total retail sales that come from RPS-eligible resources.

Under the RPS, PG&E and other retail sellers may use a flexible “stair step” approach of increasing targets that ultimately climb to a 33 percent annual requirement.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

2013 Milestones

PG&E sources most of its renewable energy through contracts with third parties. In total, PG&E added 20 new long-term contracts to its portfolio of renewable energy supplies in 2013. These contracts represent more than 500 MW of renewable projects, including solar, wind and small hydro. In addition to providing customers with more renewable energy, many of these projects also have a positive economic effect on surrounding communities.

In 2013, PG&E earned recognition for a variety of renewable energy development accomplishments.

  • Solar Electric Power Association—recognized PG&E for the most annual installed PV capacity for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Solarplaza.com—ranked PG&E as the power purchaser for four of the seven largest PV projects worldwide.
  • American Wind Energy Association—ranked PG&E fourth among U.S. electric utilities with owned and contracted wind power on the system at the end of 2013.

In 2013, we completed a three-year program to develop 150 MW of new solar PV generation owned by PG&E. The projects, which range from 1 to 20 MW per project and are located near PG&E substations in central California, will generate enough power for about 45,000 homes.

As we developed these utility-owned solar projects, we leveraged the expertise of diverse suppliers. In fact, more than half of the vendors PG&E hired for the program were diverse, minority-owned businesses. Together, the three projects that came online in 2013 provided clean energy jobs to 200 local workers and wages of $2.6 million and will benefit Fresno and Kings counties with $1.5 million in property taxes.

Additionally, last year, a number of large projects under contract reached significant stages of completion:

  • California Valley Solar Ranch. This 250-MW solar project located on the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County became fully operational. Owned by NRG Energy, it delivers enough energy to power approximately 100,000 homes in PG&E’s service area.
  • Topaz Solar Project, Phase Three. This 550-MW project being built by First Solar for MidAmerican Energy Holdings is one of the world’s largest solar PV projects. Scheduled for completion in 2015, it began major deliveries of power to PG&E in 2013.
  • Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One. Although located in north Los Angeles County, this 230-MW project began deliveries to PG&E. Owned by Exelon Corporation, it promises to meet the energy needs of 75,000 typical homes and displace 140,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.

We have also asked permission from the CPUC to offer a Green Option that would allow customers to buy 100 percent renewable energy. The state legislature used PG&E’s voluntary program as the basis for a mandated community renewables program that was signed into law in September 2013.

Measuring Progress

PG&E is well on its way to meeting California’s renewable energy mandate. By the end of 2013, 22.5 percent of the electricity we delivered to our customers came from RPS-eligible resources. PG&E achieved the first compliance period mandate and expects to meet and sustain the 33 percent mandate for 2020 and beyond. The majority of the renewable resources will come from contracts with third-party renewable energy companies.

Overall, PG&E has contracted for more than 10,900 MW of RPS-eligible energy since the start of California’s RPS program in 2002, including more than 7,200 MW of active contracts through 2013. Approximately 5,100 MW of these are delivering to PG&E, with about 2,100 MW under development through mid-June 2014.

Renewable Portfolio Standard—Contracts Signed 2002–20131
Type Number MW % By Count % By Capacity
Bioenergy 22 352 14% 3%
Geothermal 10 769 6% 7%
Small Hydro 9 153 6% 1%
Solar Thermal 14 2,755 9% 25%
Solar Photovoltaic 56 3,371 36% 31%
Wind 44 3,545 28% 32%
Ocean/Tidal 1 2 <1% <1%
Total 156 10,947 100% 100%
  • 1 The table includes terminated, expired and CPUC-rejected contracts and does not include Feed-In Tariff power purchase agreements and amended post-2002 qualifying facility contracts. The table also excludes five Renewable Energy Credit (REC)-only contracts signed 2002-2013.

PG&E also saw growth in the number of signed contracts from its Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program, which offers a standard form contract and payment for renewable projects up to 3 MW within our service area. In 2013, we executed 37 FIT contracts representing 43 MW of RPS-eligible energy.

Looking Ahead

PG&E continues to participate in multiple forums to help shape sound energy policy solutions to meet the challenges California faces with respect to renewable resource development and interconnection.

For example, PG&E continues to work collaboratively with the CPUC as the agency implements the 33 percent RPS legislation and other renewable energy programs. PG&E supports the use of renewable energy while recognizing that increased deployment of renewables presents challenges, including higher costs and operational impacts related to the integration of renewables into the grid. Therefore, a key priority for PG&E is to work with stakeholders and advocate policies that provide flexibility and help minimize costs to our customers.

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