Under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, investor-owned utilities only have until 2010 to procure 20% of their power from renewable sources (although certain flexible compliance measures do apply). There are concerns that the  rapidly-approaching deadline is leading utilities to sign power purchase agreements with projects that are not viable and may never achieve commercial operation. To help prevent this going forward, the California Public Utilities Commission Energy Division has proposed project viability criteria to evaluate each project bidding into California’s RPS program. Utilities would be required to score potential RPS projects based on developer experience in project financing, RFOs, and facility ownership and operation; technical viability; and project-specific viability criteria such as equipment procurement, project development lead time, transmission lead time and cost of transmission interconnection, site control, permitting, and pricing structure. The project viability score could be taken into account in PPA approval by the CPUC and in gaging whether to excuse utilities that fail to meet RPS goals. Scoring projects based on viability criteria has the potential to affect who successfully participates in the RPS solicitation process and the types of technologies that are selected as RPS projects. Comments on the CPUC proposal are due on February 27, 2009. Read more about the proposal in my colleagues’ recent Renewable Energy Law Alert.