California Governor Jerry Brown wants 12.000 megawatts of distributed generation (DG) to be part of the 20,000-plus megawatts of renewable capacity the state’s utilities have been ordered to put in place by 2020. That’s a lot of rooftop and ground mounted solar, small and community wind, small biomass/biogas production, combined heat and power and other such local renewables.
“There are many thousands of megawatts left to do,” explained Steven Weissman, co-author of California’s Transition to Local Renewable Energy: 12,000 Megawatts by 2020 from U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE).
Most of California’s DG will likely come from solar. “The good news is the California Solar Initiative [CSI] the CPUC oversees, which pertains to retrofit installations, and a comparable program the CEC oversees for new construction, should hit their 3,000 megawatt target by 2017. The bad news is it will have taken ten years. We’re going to have more than 7,500 megawatts still to make up and less than ten years to do it.”
To create a roadmap, Brown gathered players in the solar private sector, representatives of the state’s utilities, and leaders of California trade groups, environmentalists and labor unions at UCLA last summer and charged them with finding a way to install the twelve gigawatts despite regulatory, financial and political obstacles. “Find the path through the thicket,” he told them. “On the other side, we will have our solar future.”
The Governor’s office asked CLEE’s Weissman and Jeffrey Russell to expand on the UCLA conference stakeholder input with further research and analysis and build a comprehensive outline of how to overcome the many remaining planning, permitting, financing, construction and interconnection barriers slowing California’s DG.