CEC Report: Renewable Power in California: Status and Issues


The PIER Program has provided roughly $179 million in R&D funding for a wide variety of activities in support of California’s renewable energy goals. These investments are not limited to basic research – more than half of PIER renewable funding awarded between 2004 and 2010 was for technology demonstrations.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced release of the Lead Commissioner Report on “Renewable Power in California: Status and Issues” (CEC-150-2011-002-LCF-REV1). The report is accessible from the Docket #11-IEP-1 web page, which lists documents for the 2011 integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Proceeding.

The report provides a thorough summary and comparison of the various types and applications of renewable energy in the state and offers projections regarding both the potential increase for each type and the relationship to California’s renewable energy goals. For example: Biomass electrical generation capacity in place is reported as 1,553 megawatts electric (MWe), less than one half of the 3,820 MWe estimated as technically available.

The report first analyzes a broad sweep of critical issues surrounding and barriers to increased renewable energy development, then provides a set of five key recommendations to meet the challenges:

  1. Identify and prioritize areas for both utility-scale and distributed energy;
  2. Evaluate current project burdens beyond technical costs;
  3. Minimize interconnection costs and requirements;
  4. Promote and incentivize in-state technology and project development,
  5. Promote and coordinate existing state and federal financing and incentive programs for critical stages including research, development, and demonstration; pre-commercialization and deployment.

The report is seen as the first step in strategic plan development in 2012 and complements the upcoming 2011 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update, which the CEC will consider for adoption at its January 12, 2012 meeting.

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