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Renewable energy in California: What has policy brought us?

September 21, 2012 |

 

Government support for renewable energy is a subject of national debate. In particular, many are scrutinizing the Federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy – absent legislative action, it expires in December.

Policymakers across the political spectrum are asking questions like “has government support of renewable projects been effective?” and “should government support be continued or scrapped?” Investors in renewable energy are similarly interested in how policies can best provide stable support to help the industry mature.

With those questions in mind, our team looked back at what state and federal renewable energy policies have meant for California’s renewable energy deployment up to now.

A brief history of California renewable energy policies

As this graphic shows, renewable energy deployment in California has been concentrated in two waves. The first, in the 1980s, was due to a combination of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), high natural gas prices, and new technologies. The second, which started around 2001, coincided with California’s renewable portfolio standard as well as state and federal incentives.

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