The California State Senate approved new rules on Thursday pertaining to how the state will get 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020. In 2009 former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger handed down an executive order establishing the rule and since then the state’s renewable energy sources have risen to make up 18% of their entire electric pool. The new laws passed this week will strengthen the state’s goal, allow electricity providers to look outside the state for sources, attempt to stop excess costs from being passed to consumers and make the goal a state law instead of an order under the command of state air regulators — which should help it be more strictly enforced.

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The rules previously forced California electricity providers to only gather clean energy from within the state, this stipulation was quickly seen as impractical as their are many renewable energy sources just outside California’s state borders. State senators passed the law in hopes of keeping the opposition — there’s a strong contingent of lawmakers against the law — at bay. “If we do not send that signal, the investment dollars, the taxes and the jobs will go to some other state or some other nation,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the lead author of the bill.

Experts say the state is well on its way to upping it’s 18% renewable energy share to 21% by the end of 2011 which would put it well on the right track to meeting the 33% goal by 2020. There has been some backlash within the state about the cost of renewable energy and some dissenters are still trying to fight the bill. Moving the law from under the jurisdiction of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) makes it more solid because loopholes within CARB made it easy for electricity providers to skirt their responsibilities. Not only will this law help Californians wean themselves off of dirty energy resources but it is helping them to stick to a 2006 California law which requires the state to lower emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Via Bloomberg