Calif. rule may stunt Oregon clean energy market
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Google is investing in $102M in a Mojave Desert wind farm.
In a bold policy move last week, a California authority limited the amount of renewable energy credits its utilities can purchase outside the state, raising questions about the future of renewable energy development on its borders, including in Oregon.
The decision comes from the California Public Utility Commission, which issued the rule Jan. 13, effective immediately.
The new rule mandates that in-state utilities purchase 75 percent of the renewable energy credits needed to meet the California's Renewable Portfolio Standard from inside the state. California aims to generate 20 percent of the energy from renewable sources by 2020. (Oregon's goal is 25 percent by 2025.)
Geared to combat climate change and also to spur new industry in renewable energy, RPS standards have become the norm in many states. But California's differs in that it now mandates the renewable energy come in substantial part from projects either located inside the state or with a direct transmission line into California.
The decision, aggressively pushed by union and labor leaders, is a power play by California — already the largest force in the energy market — to claim an industry that's seen encouraging economic gains in the last few years. Likely to reshape the renewable energy business, it also illustrates the influence states have over the industry. The new rule also highlights the jockeying taking place between states while the federal government fails to provide a long-term, stable framework for renewable energy development for the whole nation.
"If the biggest market in the county says, 'That's going to be your rule,' that's going to be the way it's done," said Tom Grauntt, spokesman for Pacific Power. "If they started buying a certain kind of ice cream, it's going to affect the market. It's 40 million people."
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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