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California May Credit Big Hydro Power to Green Energy Goal

James Nash — Bloomberg — April 17, 2012

California, the second-largest U.S. hydroelectric producer, would count large water projects toward its goal of having renewable resources supply a third of its power under a bill approved by an Assembly committee.

The measure would remove a limitation that now counts only smaller hydropower projects, capable of producing 30 megawatts or less, to qualify toward California’s renewable portfolio standard. The biggest U.S. state by population, which consumed 8.5 percent of the nation’s energy in 2009, generated 13.2 percent of U.S. hydroelectric power, second only to Washington State, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

California adopted a formal target for renewable energy sources, such as solar and water, in 2002 and expanded it last year to require investor-owned utilities to generate 33 percent of their power from such sources by 2020.

Environmental advocates and state Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, said allowing the large hydroelectric projects to count toward the renewable goal would uproot the purpose of the rule. Skinner said utilities could build giant hydroelectric facilities in neighboring states and Canada, then export the power back to California.

Link to full article at Bloomberg

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