Electric Renewable Resources

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

In 2018, California adopted one of the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies in the country, requiring that all utilities in the state supply 60% of their retail electric sales from eligible renewable energy resources by 2030 and putting the state on a path to 100% fossil-fuel free electricity by 2045. However, the City has been pursuing renewable resources for well over a decade (having voluntarily adopted its own RPS target in 2002), and as the chart below shows, it has already exceeded the 60% RPS level as of 2018. The City is also continuing to aggressively pursue energy efficiency measures in order to ratchet down its total electricity consumption, and thus reduce the volume of renewable energy purchases that are needed to satisfy its RPS requirements.

Carbon Neutral Portfolio

In 2013 the City formally adopted a Carbon Neutral Plan, which commits the City to providing its customers with a 100% carbon neutral electricity supply. The City’s electric supply portfolio contains a variety of resources that are considered by the state to be "eligible renewable energy resources," which means that these resources can be counted towards the City’s RPS target. In addition, the City for many years has received electricity from large hydroelectric resources that provide a carbon-free power supply, but under California’s renewable energy eligibility criteria do not count towards the RPS target. 

As shown in the chart below, the City currently provides its customers with a 100% carbon neutral electricity supply exclusively through its long-term renewable resource and hydroelectric contracts. (Although in a severe drought year, the City might need to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) to compensate for the generic market power purchases that would be required in order to satisfy overall electricity demand.) The City’s Power Content Label provides additional information about its electricity supply. 

View CPAU's residential and commercial Power Content Labels.



Map of the City of Palo Alto's Renewable Power Project Sites 

Carbon Content of the Electricity Supply

Another way to illustrate the “carbon content” or “carbon intensity” of the City’s electric supply portfolio is to show the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas emissions generated for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity delivered to the City’s customers. The chart below illustrates the downward trend of the carbon content of the City’s electricity portfolio since 2005 as the City increased its purchases of renewable power supplies. Since the adoption of the Carbon Neutral Plan in 2013, the carbon content of the City’s power has been zero (on an annual average basis), and it is expected to remain at that level going forward. 

electric supply carbon intensity