distributed generation


Renters in California May Gain Access to More Renewable Energy

Proposed legislation would make renewable energy available to millions more Californians

Most Californians can't install rooftop solar panels.

California’s big utilities are working toward the goal of generating 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, but some people want more renewable power, sooner. And there’s a solution to that: generate your own. But for most Californians — those who rent, who live in condos, whose property isn’t suitable for solar or wind installations or who just can’t afford it — that solution isn’t really an option.

Senator Lois Wolk, from Davis, has written legislation with a new solution. If Senate Bill 843 passes, customers of one of California’s big three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas and Electric, would be allowed to purchase renewable energy directly from small, independent producers. Those producers send energy into the grid, then customers get credits on their regular utility bills. Continue reading

Amping Up Local Renewable Power

Think globally, amp locally?

Most Californians rely on electricity from distant sources.

By Thibault Worth

California’s mandated goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020 may be bold and ambitious. But there’s room to raise the bar still higher, say proponents of local renewable power.

A report commissioned by Governor Jerry Brown last year — and released this week by Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) — lays out a plan for developing 12,000 Megawatts of renewable power generation close to homes and workplaces by 2020. Continue reading

Yes in Our Backyard

Rooftop solar can make a sizable dent in the West’s renewable energy needs

This week representatives from the federal Department of Energy and Bureau of Land Management wrap up their California barnstorming swing, to gauge public opinion on the topic of siting solar projects. Throughout this often contentious debate, many have claimed that a potentially huge piece of the power solution is being overlooked; rooftop solar.

Acres of flat-roofed commercial buildings in California's Inland Empire. (Photo: Craig Miller)

Fly into Ontario airport in Southern California’s Inland Empire — or just zoom in on Google Earth — and you’ll see hundreds of block-long warehouses. There are acres — probably square miles — of flat, gray roofs sizzling in the San Bernardino County sun.  Soon, though, instead of merely soaking up the rays, hundreds of industrial rooftops in Southland cities will harness them to feed the local electrical grid.

Solar panels ready for installation on Ontario warehouse. (Photo: Ilsa Setziol)

Southern California Edison and independent power producers holding contracts with the utility are building 500 MW of solar panels on warehouses and, to a lesser extent, on the ground at other Southern California locations.

Together these projects are expected to produce enough energy to rival a traditional power plant, enough to serve about 325,000 homes. Continue reading