California to double solar and wind energy by 2020

California is set to expand its reliance on solar and wind energy sources by the end of this decade. The state, which currently has 10,700 megawatts of wind and solar power connected to the California Independent System Operator (ISO), will see that figure nearly double to 18,700 megawatts by 2020. One megawatt of power generates enough energy for 1,000 homes.

According to the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which was originally established by the state senate in 2002 and expanded in 2006 and again in 2011, 33 percent (one-third) of the state's energy must come from a renewable source by the end of the year 2020. The law is intended for investor-owned utility companies, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to rely on more environmentally friendly energy.

"Renewable generation provides a great basis for greening the grid and reducing the electric industry's greenhouse gas footprint," California ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich said in an official statement.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), has recommended that the state keep or build certain flexible power generators, like gas-fired units, for back-up sources of energy that can efficiently ramp up or down in response to the output of a renewable energy source. Unlike traditional power plants that run as long as needed to meet the needs of an area, wind and solar energy is only available when wind is blowing or the sun is out.

The NERC and ISO are working together to study all the renewable energy sources in California already in place to determine what they can do to keep power running to the state smoothly without interruptions as the number of renewable sources are added to the state's energy grid over the next few years.

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