By Michael J. Carroll and Marc T. Campopiano

On October 7, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 327, removing the current ceiling on California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). 

As discussed previously, the RPS requires regulated sellers of electricity to obtain a percentage of their electricity from certified renewable resources. In 2011, California’s RPS was increased to 33 percent by 2020, among the most aggressive renewable energy standards in the United States.  The RPS phases in at 20% by 2013, 25% by 2016, and 33% by 2020. 

AB 327 does not change the RPS or the compliance timelines. Rather, AB 327 gives the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) the discretion to “require the procurement of eligible renewable energy resources in excess” of the levels established by the RPS. Previously, the CPUC could not require regulated retail sellers of electricity to exceed the RPS, although retail sellers could do so voluntarily. In effect, AB 327 removes the upper limit, or ceiling, on renewable procurement requirements in California and provides the CPUC with the discretion to raise the level. AB 327 also alters how retail rates are determined and expands the availability of net metering programs, among other changes.