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Utilities 'Close' on Renewables; Climate, Gas on Track, Peevey Says

California's major private-sector utilities should be "very close" to meeting the state's 20% renewable mandate in 2010, and other climate change and natural gas targets are even more certain in the months ahead, the head of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Michael Peevey, told a state Senate committee meeting Tuesday in Sacramento. On the natural gas side, Peevey said the CPUC is assuring the state has adequate supplies, infrastructure, reasonable rates, a "rational" transmission framework, and safe liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

While displaying a year-by-year graph showing the utilities coming up a little short in 2010, Peevey told state legislators who peppered him with questions on the renewable goal issue, that the "bottom line is we will continue to push hard to reach the 2010 goal."

"Based on contracts currently approved or in the pipeline, the investor-owned utilities should get very close to 20% by 2010," Peevey said. "Pending contracts from 2006-07 solicitations may put the utilities at more than 20% by 2010 -- though there is some risk that contracts currently scheduled to produce by 2010 will not do so."

This year the CPUC is focused on implementing a state law (SB 107) dealing with tools for meeting the renewable goals, such as:

For natural gas, Peevey said the Sempra utilities' comprehensive settlements from 2006 will provide a lot of long-term consumer benefits as the Southern California Gas Co.'s new transmission framework is implemented this year.

In addition, he said the CPUC will "address comprehensive operation, structural and regulator proposals by SoCalGas, San Diego Gas and Electric Co. and others in an omnibus proceeding. "We will also continue to participate in a state agency LNG group that is trying to assure safe siting," Peevey said.

On climate change, Peevey conceded 2007 will be a busy year, and the CPUC will have to do an extraordinary job of coordination among the California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Energy Commission (CEC), California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and other state agencies.

"One of the challenges will be to encourage municipal utility participation in CPUC proceedings on an equal footing with the investor-owned utilities to develop comprehensive and consistent sets of recommendations," he said.

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