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California finalises rules for implementing RPS

California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has finalised the rules for how utilities must implement the state's renewables portfolio standard (RPS). The California legislature passed the RPS into law last August, requiring utilities to acquire 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2017 and to reach that goal while increasing renewables purchases by at least 1% a year. Overall, the PUC order is a good outcome, says the California Wind Energy Association's Nancy Rader. "The commission has clearly become sensitive to our concerns and it went out of its way to look out for wind," she says. The order largely contains those elements recommended by her organisation, including requiring the state's three largest utilities to begin procuring renewable resources by the end of 2003, instituting a benchmark methodology that could value wind in the $0.05/kWh range, recognising that wind has some capacity value, and adopting the use of a penalty for non-compliance with the RPS. The ruling also included some weak elements, however. The PUC adopted excuses for not meeting the RPS goals that could easily allow a utility to avoid non-compliance penalties and standard contract terms were not adopted. "Because they did not adopt our complete proposal, continued vigilance will be required to ensure that the utilities do not discriminate against us," Rader warns.

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