A few weeks back I discussed the importance of robust Renewable Energy Standards for the future of renewable energy development in the United States.  It seems that the the state of California agrees, as yesterday the state legislature passed legislation which will give California the most ambitious renewable energy standard in the nation.  This legislation, which was introduced by State Senator Joe Simitian, will require private and public utilities to utilize renewable energy for 33% of their total energy portfolios by the year 2020.

Previously, under legislation that was also introduced by State Sen. Simitian, state utilities were required to generate 20% of their total portfolios from renewable sources by 2010.  A study performed by the California Public Utilities Commission found that the state utilities have met this goal.  Specifically, they had achieved 18% renewable energy as of the end of 2010, and are expected to be at 20% by the end of this year.

Interestingly, the previous law included a rate cap which the new legislation would remove.  I’ve discussed the significant impact of rate cap provisions in a previous post, but suffice it to say that this move should help spur renewable production even further.

The legislation has now passed both houses, and all the remains for it to become effective is the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown.  Congratulations to State Senator Simitian for once again helping to raise the bar on renewable energy policy in the United States.

The full text of the bill is available on the California Legislature’s Bill Information Site, here, and an excellent “Fact Sheet” prepared by a member of Senator Simitian’s staff can be found here.

*Update:  Gov. Brown officially signed this legislation into law on April 12, 2011.  Angela Binewal wrote an excellent article for North American Windpower about the signing, and provides great insights into the industry’s response to the new standard.