California Investor-Owned Utilities Begin 2011 RPS Plan Solicitations

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After nearly 18 months of uncertainty, the primary buyers in the nation’s most promising renewable energy market are shopping once again. California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs)—Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E)—have issued Requests for Offers (RFOs) for the sale of renewable electric power. By many accounts, this year’s RFO process may constitute one of the most robust opportunities ever for renewable energy developers in the United States. The level of complexity, difficulty, and competition involved in securing a financeable deal, however, may also reach all-time highs and should not be underestimated.

California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires that the IOUs obtain increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources. California recently increased these RPS requirements to 20% of the total energy obtained by the end of 2013, 25% by the end of 2016, and 33% by the end of 2020 (see our April 21, 2011, WSGR Alert, “California Adopts Aggressive Renewables Portfolio Standard” at http://www.wsgr.com/ WSGR/Display.aspx?SectionName=publicatio ns/PDFSearch/wsgralert_CA_Adopts_Renew ables_Standard.htm. To ensure that they can meet these aggressive RPS standards, the IOUs are required to file RPS procurement plans with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). After lengthy proceedings at the CPUC addressing the use of Tradable Renewable Energy Certificates (TRECs), the Renewable Auction Mechanism, and other issues (see our February 7, 2011, WSGR Alert, “California Energy Regulatory Update” at http://www.wsgr.com/WSGR/ Display.aspx?SectionName=publications/ PDFSearch/wsgralert_california_energy_ regulatory_update.htm, the IOUs filed their Final 2011 Procurement Plans on May 4. The highlights of each IOU’s RFO protocol are summarized below.

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