Always a trailblazer, California has taken the bold step of increasing its renewable portfolio standard, which has helped inspire other states but is still comparatively higher.

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill X1-2, which will raise the state’s current renewable portfolio standard and extend the time frame another 10 years. The previous standard required utilities to acquire 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by the year 2010. The new law extends the target to 33 percent and gives utilities until 2020 to reach it.

The new standard applies to all the state’s utilities including publicly owned utilities, investor-owned utilities, electricity service providers, and community choice aggregators. It allows them to meet the target incrementally. Recognizing that the previous 20 percent target has yet to be reached, it gives utilities until 2013 to cross that threshold. After that, they will have until 2016 to get 25 percent of their power from renewables. Finally, they must reach the 33 percent target by Dec. 31, 2020.

Brown touted the standard as a catalyst for investment and jobs and characterized it as a floor, rather than a ceiling. In doing so, he gave a not-so-subtle hint as to what he thought the next threshold should be, saying 40 percent “is well within our grasp in the near future.”

First established in 2002, California’s renewable energy portfolio standard has been a model and a sort of benchmark for other states. According to the website for the Pew Center on Global Change, www.pewclimate.org, 37 states have a portfolio standard for renewable energy, alternative energy or some combination of the two. Only Hawaii has a standard higher than California’s. It requires utilities to get 40 percent of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2030.