Today in Cleantech

California Gov. Jerry Brown made it official — the state’s biggest utilities are going to get a third of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable resources by 2020. Now all they have to do it get to their existing mandate of 20 percent by 2010. As of March, Pacific Gas & Electric had hit 17.7 percent and Southern California Edison had reached 19.4 percent in their clean energy portfolios, though both are projecting they’ll hit 20 percent by the end of the year. Huge projects by the likes of BrightSource Energy and First Solar are set to expand California’s share of solar power over the coming years, but utilities still have a long way to go to get there. Plus, the cost of building solar and wind farms, geothermal power plants and other far-off clean resources can be matched or exceeded by the cost of building new transmission lines to get the power to where it’s needed. Distributed green energy — rooftop solar panels, backyard wind farms, household batteries and other sources of power — could help reduce some of those transmission costs by putting green power close to where it’s consumed. But distributed resources are harder for utilities to manage and control, without smart grid technologies to link them up…

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