Energy Commission Report Shows Wind and Solar Generation Climbing While Natural Gas Dropping

There is no surprise in the latest report about electricity capacity and generation from the California Energy Commission: California continues moving away from fossil fuels as the state’s renewable energy portfolio expands.

“California’s policies are moving us towards more clean, reliable and affordable energy,” said California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Significant progress had been made in the electricity sector. We need to expand the use of clean energy to remove dirty, carbon fuels from the transportation sector.”

The tracking progress report compares “electric power capacity” and “electric power generation” over the past 16 years. Capacity reflects the total capability of various types of facilities to generate electricity while generation shows the actual generation of electricity produced.

Natural gas remained the largest portion of in-state installed capacity although it has declined in recent years. Meantime, solar and wind have increased. In 2016, solar photovoltaic capacity was 8,618 megawatts (MW) and solar thermal capacity was 1,249 MW. That’s enough electricity to power more than 3 million average California homes. The recent expansion of utility-scale photovoltaic solar included new projects in Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Weather played a factor when looking at electricity generation in 2016. California’s hydroelectric generation doubled in 2016 as a result of storms and improved snowpack conditions. As hydroelectric generation increased, natural gas-fired electric generation decreased. At the same time, there was significant double-digit growth in both solar photovoltaic generation and wind generation. Total in-state solar generation increased nearly 32 percent from 2015. Wind generation increased nearly 11 percent.

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Renewable Energy

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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