California Governor Signs Nation’s Highest Renewable Energy Standard
MILPITAS, California, April 12, 2011 (ENS) – Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law California’s expanded Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires one-third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.
The legislation increases California’s current 20 percent renewables portfolio standard target to a 33 percent renewables portfolio standard by December 31, 2020.
SunPower solar panels on a Macy’s store in California (Photo courtesy SunPower)
“This bill will bring many important benefits to California, including stimulating investment in green technologies in the state, creating tens of thousands of new jobs, improving local air quality, promoting energy independence, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brown in his signing message.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation was sponsored by State Senator Joseph Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, and passed the legislature as part of a special session focused on economic development.
“While reaching a 33 percent renewables portfolio standard will be an important milestone, it is really just a starting point – a floor, not a ceiling,” Governor Brown said today.
“Our state has enormous renewable resource potential. I would like to see us pursue even more far-reaching targets. With the amount of renewable resources coming on-line, and prices dropping, I think 40 percent, at reasonable cost, is well within our grasp in the near future,” he said.
The governor chose to sign the bill in Milpitas at the dedication of a new solar panel manufacturing facility – a partnership between SunPower and electronics manufacturing services provider Flextronics.
California Governor Jerry Brown (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
The plant already has created more than 100 jobs and will produce 75 megawatts per year of solar power panels for rooftops and power plants.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu used the occasion to announce that the San Jose-based SunPower Corp. will receive a $1.2 billion conditional loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for the 250 megawatt California Solar Valley Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, the company’s first central-station PV power plant.
NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. will assume all ownership and financing responsibilities for the project. SunPower will design, build, and initially operate and maintain the solar power plant.
The solar panels for this project will be manufactured at the Milpitas plant.
California Solar Valley Ranch construction is expected to start in the second half of 2011, contingent on permitting and financing, for which it will hire 350 people.
A portion of the project expected to begin operations by the end of 2011 and the balance is slated to come on line in 2012 and 2013.
The project is projected to create $315 million in economic benefit to California, power approximately 100,000 homes and help the state achieve its new 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard.
“Strong public policy at both the federal and state levels is paying off with job creation and capital investments from our equipment manufacturers to our dealers that install SunPower systems on homes and businesses across the U.S. and around the world,” said SunPower chief executive Tom Werner. “We make the world’s highest efficiency solar panels with technology developed in Silicon Valley and can now compete with new gas-fired power plants.
SunPower solar cells currently hold the world record in efficiency for silicon solar cells in commercial production at 22.4 percent. SunPower’s technology features a patented, rear-contact design that maximizes the working cell area and electricity generation, eliminates metals on the front-side of the solar cells, and facilitates highly automated production.
Werner said the new manufacturing location will allow SunPower to quickly and cost-effectively supply panels to solar installations at homes, businesses, schools and power plants throughout the rapidly growing U.S. solar market.