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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 7 on the November ballot, primarily because it would establish an excessively rigid - and potentially unworkable - structure for the further development of renewable energy in California.

Proposition 7 would require the state's utilites to acquire 50% of their power from renewables by 2025 and make changes to the permitting and siting of electricity generating facilities and transmission lines.

The RPS program currently calls for utilities in the state to obtain 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2010. The CPUC strongly supports aggressive renewable energy goals, but determined that the structure of Proposition 7 might hinder these goals in the short term and would likely increase costs to consumers.

As a ballot initiative, any amendment to the proposition would need the support of two-thirds of the Legislature. The CPUC is concerned that this would render the program unnecessarily inflexible as new technologies develop and the renewable electricity market matures. The current RPS program provides the CPUC with the flexibility needed to address emerging technologies and the changing marketplace.

"The focus right now should not be on increasing renewable power goals, but on overcoming barriers to getting projects financed and built," says CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. "The monies that are being poured into supporting Proposition 7 would be much better spent on efforts to make sure the federal government renews the renewable investment tax credits and helping to overcome local opposition to the transmission lines that will be necessary to bring clean renewable power from the state's tremendous wind and solar resources."

The CPUC determined that the legal changes that Proposition 7 would impose would seriously interfere with - and delay the implementation of - the numerous renewable energy related programs that the CPUC is currently carrying out.

Of particular note, Proposition 7 appears to exclude all renewable resources smaller than 30 MW. Such smaller renewable facilities can be expected to provide a significant portion of the renewable energy that will be needed to meet the RPS, and their exclusion from the program would inevitably hinder - rather than facilitate - the accomplishment of the state's RPS goals, according to the CPUC.

SOURCE: California Public Utilities Commission

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