Executive Order S-14-08 requires all retail electricity sellers to serve 33 percent of their load with renewable energy by 2020.

On November 17, 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-14-08 (EO), which increases the state’s Renewable Energy Standard to 33 percent renewable power by 2020 and orders the creation of a streamlined process for approving renewable energy projects. On the same day, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the creation of a Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT) to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy development so as to cut permitting times in half for renewable projects.

The EO requires all retail electricity sellers to serve 33 percent of their load with renewable energy, such as wind and solar, by 2020 and directs all state agencies to implement this target in all regulatory proceedings. Prior to the EO, California law mandated that utilities produce 20 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2010. According to an October 2008 report by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC Report), reaching a 33 percent target may require the state to invest approximately $60 billion in generation and transmission between 2010 and 2020.

The EO also directs the CEC to work with stakeholders in California’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) to identify crucial renewable energy zones that can be developed reliably, economically and with minimal adverse impact on the environment. Moreover, the EO instructs the CEC to issue a Renewable Transmission Development Report that identifies potential routes and interconnection points for new lines and requires the DFG to participate in the RETI process and the REAT. Furthermore, the Order directs the CEC to participate in the Western Renewable Energy Zone initiative, which seeks to bring about the development of 30,000 megawatts of clean and diversified energy across the West by 2015.

According to gubernatorial aids, the state legislature is now drafting legislation to implement the standard into law, assessing a penalty system for non-complying sellers of retail electricity and determining how to minimize the cost of renewable energy. The incoming California senate president pro tem, Darrell Steinberg, predicts that such legislation will be passed by May 2009.