Renewable energy is all the rage as we try to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Venture capitalists are investing billions. The federal government is funding a huge range of projects, from solar to wind to biofuels, through the stimulus bill. And more than thirty states have approved laws requiring some percentage of electricity to come from renewable sources. One of the states leading the effort, California, set a target of twenty percent renewable electricity by 2010. That includes energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass projects, though not large-scale hydro power like dams. But for all its green ambitions, the state is finding out that it’s easier to set green energy goals than to meet them. As of the end of 2009, California’s three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, were only serving 15% renewable electricity. By the end of this year, for a variety of reasons — some financial, some political — the state will miss its goal.

Where did California go wrong? And as other states try to learn from its lessons, does the Golden State have any hope of reaching its next ambitious target – 33 percent renewable by 2020? Follow KQED’s environmental and science initiatives, QUEST and Climate Watch as we explore the obstacles to achieving California’s ambitious renewable energy goals. Over the next several months we will explore some of the challenges including: finding a home for big solar and wind farms, energy storage, California’s complex permitting process and where to build new transmission lines.

Can California get one-third of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020? Stay tuned to our series 33 x 20: California’s Clean Power Countdown.

We’re launching the series this week with a story from Lauren Sommer about how we got here and how far we have to go. But what are your questions about renewable energy? What would you like us to cover in the months ahead? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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  • Fellow citizen

    It is amazing to look back at your blog post years later. Today it is 2015. While California IOU’s are slowly trudging along, making progress, toward the 33% goal, Community Choice (or CCAs) have raised the bar, with a renewable turbo boost. CCAs, powered by sustainable-minded companies like California Clean Power ( ) are a way for communities to reach the state goal far in advance. They are getting there. And now Gov. Brown has set a new goal 50% by 2030. I hope we can make it.


Andrea Kissack

Andrea has nearly three decades of experience working as a reporter, anchor, producer and editor for public radio, large market television news and CBS radio. In her current role as KQED’s Sr. Science Editor, Andrea helps lead a talented team covering science, technology, health and the environment for broadcast and digital platforms. Most recently she helped KQED launch a new, multimedia initiative covering the intersection of technology, health and medical science. She has earned a number of accolades for her work including awards from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Associated Press. Her work can be seen, and heard, on a number of networks, Including NPR, PBS, CBS and the BBC.

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