Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | San Diego Gas & Electric will not likely meet a state-mandated goal to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010, making it the only state utility to admit that it expects to fall short of the green-energy mandate.
The state Legislature has established one of the country’s most aggressive goals for increasing the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, which have a less intense impact on climate change than fossil fuel-fired sources such as coal and natural gas. While 28 states are requiring utilities to increase their reliance on renewable energy, California set the shortest schedule.
SDG&E has said in regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will likely fall short of that goal. The company has shown the least progress of any California investor-owned utility in boosting its reliance on green energy, today getting 6 percent of its supply from renewable sources. The state’s other two utilities are using more: Southern California Edison gets 16 percent of its energy from green sources, Pacific Gas & Electric receives 12 percent. Spokeswomen for both companies said they expect to meet the 2010 deadline.
SDG&E has agreements with developers of renewable energy sources and has hundreds of megawatts under contract — enough to provide 13 percent of its total supply. But many of those projects are not built and are not providing green energy to San Diego. The company blames delays in its application process to secure state approval of the Sunrise Powerlink, a $1.3 billion, 150-mile transmission line it has proposed between San Diego and Imperial County.
The issue highlights a challenge that renewable energy projects face across the state: Connecting far-off renewable electricity supplies with the cities that need them. In a recent report to the Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission identified the state’s constrained transmission system as one of the major barriers to renewable energy development.
San Diego County and its surrounds have the potential to provide thousands of megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal energy — along with the open space to accommodate many of the projects.