New vision unveiled for California's clean energy future

Source: California Independent System Operator Corporation

A new plan and vision for California’s energy future was unveiled two days in advance of the Air Resources Board consideration of a first-in-the-nation rule requiring that a third of our electricity come from clean, green sources by 2020.

The “California’s Clean Energy Future” vision is accompanied by an implementation plan and a roadmap. It demonstrates an unprecedented spirit of collaboration comprised of four state agencies and the independent power grid operator. The joint authors are the ARB, California Energy Commission (CEC), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO). The “California’s Clean Energy Future” overview outlines how California’s energy agencies will achieve the ambitious environmental and energy policy goals established by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The document provides the following targets by 2020: 

•Reductions of electricity (13,200 to 18,000 gigawatt-hours) and natural gas use (800 million therms) by 2020. 

•5,000 megawatts of installed renewable distributed generation statewide at the right locations on the power grid to support reliability and provide economic value. 

•The development of at least one large-scale carbon capture and storage generating facility in California. 

•1,000 MW of additional storage capacity to be brought onto the system. 

•Developing enough charging stations at home, work, and in public areas to accommodate one million electric and hybrid vehicles.

The document will guide the next decade of coordinated strategic planning in the state, bringing cleaner sources of electricity online, and supporting reinvigorated efforts to improve energy efficiency, developing new transmission infrastructure and ensuring the stability of the electrical grid.

Improved planning for a clean energy future will create thousands of new jobs, diversify the state’s energy supplies and reduce air pollution from fossil-fuel power generation. 

The document calls for an integrated approach to energy issues that have, in the past, not always been addressed in a fully coordinated fashion. In contrast, a consensus among the agencies drives the current effort in which a coordinated statewide approach is key in balancing climate change mitigation, renewable power generation and the use of advanced technologies with grid reliability and reduced costs to consumers.

“California's energy policy must be clear and focused on meeting our advanced efficiency and renewable energy goals,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “States and nations are competing for the green jobs, economic security and cleaner environment that flow from increasing reliance on wind, solar and geothermal power. By coordinating our regulations California makes itself even more attractive to clean energy technology investors and builders. ”

A roadmap charts policy priorities, goals and milestones for the state’s clean energy future and an implementation plan contains the details of more than 50 newly aligned activities between the five organizations.
The plan covers issues such as job training and retraining for the new clean energy economy, and planning for new electricity generation, developing enhanced transmission and new distribution requirements. It also looks at strategic and infrastructure opportunities that will accommodate the influx of plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars, and investment in research and development for new technologies related to generation and distribution.

On a more technical level, the documents greatly elevate the PUC’s long-term electricity procurement planning with the ISO’s annual transmission planning efforts and the Energy Commission’s regular forecasts of statewide energy demand. All the agencies plan to review and revise their individual recommended strategies and specific targets on a biennial basis following the energy commission’s forecast updates of projected electricity demand.

The documents were inspired by the close working relationships developed among the agencies since 2006 while coordinating on electricity and energy-related measures for implementing AB 32. This was followed by an even more intensive period of collaboration following the Governor’s Executive Order in September, 2009 (S-21-09) requiring the state’s utilities to increase the power they sell to be made up of at least 33 percent clean energy. 

That collaboration produced the current proposed regulation for a renewable electricity standard which the Air Resources Board will consider at its September 23 meeting.

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