California's energy utilities are on track to meet the state's requirement of sourcing a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. That's certainly good news, but even better is what that means right now: three of the state's major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) reported that 20.6 percent of their energy last year came from renewable sources. That compares to about 13 percent nationwide last year, as reported by the US Energy Information Administration, but there's a significant difference between those two numbers other than 7.6 percentage points. The Californian program, called the Renewables Portfolio Standard, counts standard renewable sources like solar, wind, bioenergy, and geothermal, but it does not include all hydroelectric plants — only smaller ones. These small hydro plants don't have as much of a physical environmental impact.
While California says that the entire state is on track for RPS' goals, the three IOUs that reported their statistics together account for about 68 percent of the state's entire retail energy production. The country as a whole also has a long way to go until it can reach what the Department of Energy thinks is an attainable goal: 80 percent from renewable sources by 2050.