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California’s Utilities Have Stopped Deploying Renewable Energy


No new renewable capacity was procured in California last year and there are no plans to contract more.

California’s solar sector has been on fire. But after a building sprint that saw its share of solar rise from 0.5% of generation in 2010 to 10% last year, the state may be taking a break following two new production records this month.

Solar served up an unprecedented 50% of the state’s demand on a sunny day around 1pm PT on March 5. The next day, utility operators reported a second record for total generation from solar which produced 10,411 megawatts, beating out last year’s record by 5%. The state is regularly shunting electricity to Arizona and other states (sometimes paying them to do so) to avoid overloading its own power lines.

Greentech Media reports there’s little prospect of big new purchases of solar, or other renewable energy sources for that matter, by utilities. With investor-owned utilities all well ahead of state targets of 25% renewables by 2020 (and more distributed generation coming online), no new renewable capacity was procured last year and no plans to contract more (although plenty is in the pipeline, and homes and businesses are still adding more). “They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while,’” Jan Smutny-Jones of the Independent Energy Producers Association told Greentech.

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