Green energy law will increase rates for Californians, utilities say

The Sacramento BeeMarch 30, 2011 

California consumers could see sharp electricity rate increases under sweeping new legislation that would require them to ramp up their energy supplies from wind, solar and other green sources, local utilities said.

On Thursday, the state Assembly voted 55-19 to approve a measure requiring power companies to obtain up to 33 percent of their energy supplies from green sources, up sharply from the current 20 percent. The state Senate already has passed the bill.

The measure, which requires the approval of Gov. Jerry Brown, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California while boosting jobs in the state's fast-growing green economy.

But utilities say they face steep cost increases to comply with the measure.

"We're looking at (an additional) cost over $120 million by 2020," said Michael Bloom, Roseville Electric's assistant electric utility director.

Bloom said Roseville Electric, which gets about 20 percent of its supply from renewable sources, would have to increase rates for its 55,000 customers as much as 5 percent over the next two years. By 2020, Bloom estimated, the utility would have to raise rates a total of 15 percent.

PG&E and SMUD would likely face similar cost increases.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which has nearly 600,000 customers in the Sacramento region, gets about 23 percent of its power supply from renewable sources.

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