California's big electrical utilities may miss the state's
deadline for increasing their use of renewable power if
Congress doesn't extend tax credits for new solar plants
and wind farms, it was reported on Saturday.
State law requires that by the end of 2010, 20 percent
of the electricity each utility sells must come from renewable
sources, but the requirement will not be met due to Congress'
failure to extend tax credits, the San Francisco Chronicle
Like all California utilities, San Francisco's Pacific
Gas and Electric Co.(PG&E) has been scrambling to sign
contracts with renewable-power developers. But Peter Darbee,
PG&E's chief executive officer, said many developers have
already warned him that their projects may fall through
if Congress doesn't extend tax credits due to expire at
the end of the year.
"Many of the people we've signed agreements with, the
counterparties, have informed us they may not be able
to complete these projects," Darbee was quoted as saying.
Darbee said he didn't know how many projects backed by
PG&E would fall through without the credits.
"It's significant enough that we're worried about it,"
The tax credits have broad, bipartisan support. But so
far, congressional Democrats and Republicans have been
unable to agree on how to pay for them. California's growing
green-tech industry has become increasingly alarmed that
the credits may expire, and Silicon Valley companies have
thrown their lobbying clout into winning an extension.
Critics say congressional inaction on the tax credits
could hamper the state's progress.
Darbee also warned that the price of electricity throughout
the country will rise substantially in the coming years.
Part of the increase will come from the growing use of
renewable energy, which still costs more than electricity
generated from burning fossil fuels. More of the increase,
however, will be due to soaring natural gas prices, because
most California power plants burn natural gas.
Darbee said electricity prices in some parts of the country
will jump 20 percent or more in the next few years. California
won 't experience such steep increases, he said, but the
rise will be significant.
"You're looking at on the order of single-digit increases
in the coming years," Darbee said.