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Air Resources Board – Scoping plan workshop

California has a roadmap for climate change. This plan, known as a scoping plan, was initially adopted in 2008 and is updated regularly. The most recent update was in 2017. Energy policy in California has seen a dramatic shift in strategy. The goals have changed from overall energy savings to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Reducing GHG emissions will require transitioning to carbon-free energy. The new focus on GHG reductions over total energy saved also changed the regulatory oversite body from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to California Air Resources Board (CARB). 

The state will never meet its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals until we create an effective means to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Last month CARB hosted a workshop to discuss four different strategies to reduce GHG emissions, evaluating their effectiveness. The workshop outlined different approaches to meeting the state’s GHG emission reduction goals mandated by Senate Bill 32 – GHG emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. 

The more aggressive approaches, Alternative # 1 and Alternative #2 increase the reductions to 55 percent below 1990 levels. The downside is they cost several times more to implement. Both of those plans were initially rejected. The remaining two approaches stick to the original GHG reduction goals defined in SB 32. (40% below 1990 levels by 2030)

The third plan, referred to as Scenario 3, concentrates on the workforce ramifications, including job reductions in the oil and gas industry. Like the first two proposals, it includes carbon capture technologies and the eventual phaseout of gasoline-powered vehicles. The fourth proposal is the least aggressive approach and does not provide the same health benefits as the other three alternatives. The Scenario 3 proposal appears to have the best cost-to-benefit ratio of the four alternatives and is currently the preferred solution. It reminds me a bit of the Goldilocks fairytale. If you would like to review the presentations from the workshop, they are available on the CARB website. 

Moving to a clean energy future is no small task, and there will be winners and losers during the transition. Policymakers are hard at work exploring a variety of solutions. All share the common goal of reducing the impact Californians are making on the environment.

CAISO –– New Milestone, 97% renewables

On April 3, 2022, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) reported that the electrical grid received 97 percent of its supply from clean, renewable energy on this sunny springtime day. The peak in renewable production was reported at 3:39 p.m. and broke the previous record of 94.6 percent set on March 27, 2022.

Clean energy generation broke other records this year too. Just past noon on April 8, the solar production on the grid hit a new peak of 13,628 Mega Watts (MW). On March 4, wind generation hit an all-time peak of 6,265 MW shortly before 3:00 p.m.

These records are a snapshot in time and do not represent the carbon-free mix throughout the day, but they are significant. A few years ago, this level of carbon-free electrical generation was deemed an impossible goal by many. Even the most ardent clean energy supporters predicted it would take decades to reach these targets. 

The reduced cost of solar electric panels and increases in the efficiency of wind generators are rapidly providing low-cost, carbon-free electricity to the electrical distribution grid in California. The next step to a carbon-free future is improved storage options to allow us to take advantage of clean energy 24 hours per day.

The handwriting is on the wall. California is rapidly advancing to a clean energy future that relies on electricity as the primary energy source. Electric cars, electric heat pumps, and improvements in storage technologies are paving the way to a carbon-free energy future in Califonia.