This Thursday, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a historic decision ordering utilities to procure 11,500 megawatts (MW) of new electricity resources to come online between 2023 and 2026. In fact, this amount of energy is enough to power approximately 2.5 million homes.
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Worth noting, this decision is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to ensure electricity reliability in the state and meet clean energy goals. Besides, the order includes using all the resources coming from preferred resources, such as distributed energy resources (including energy efficiency and demand response), renewables, and zero-emitting sources.
About the procurement order – CPUC
According to CPUC, this represents the most significant capacity procurement ordered at a single time by the Commission. Moreover, it is the largest order requiring only clean resources.
Further, “the decision is a foundational investment in meeting the state’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2045,” CPUC said in a statement. Finally, “today’s decision facilitates the integration of high amounts of renewables required to meet the state’s renewable and clean energy goals and ensure reliability.”
In fact, the resources required to come online will help the state respond to more extreme weather events. At the same time, they will support the replacement of electricity generation from more than 3,700 MW of retiring natural gas plants; and 2,200 MW from Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s retiring Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
In this sense, CPUC noted that it has been planning to replace power from Diablo Canyon for many years through modeling, workshops, extensive public input, and earlier decisions. Finally, in 2019, the Commission ordered significant amounts of new renewables and storage; which will result in a tenfold increase in batteries coming online this and next summer.
Accordingly, CPUC President Marybel Batjer said; “California leads the nation in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Already, more than 63 percent of our power comes from zero-carbon resources. Thus, we are the first in many categories—solar, rooftop solar, geothermal, batteries, energy efficiency, and other clean energy resources.”
Moreover, “we are on track to meet or exceed our state’s ambitious long-term targets; which call for 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.”
Adding to other clean energy and electric reliability plans in California
Similarly, Commissioner Clifford, who is assigned to the proceeding, commented; “Today’s historic decision is key to fulfilling our commitment to our clean energy and electric reliability goals.”
Hence, “the procurement we ordered is equal to the output of four large nuclear power plants or 20 natural gas plants. For instance, included is solar, wind, geothermal, and long duration storage; to illustrate, pumped hydro facilities or other emerging technologies that can store energy for eight hours or longer.”
Regarding Diablo Canyon’s retirement, Rechtschaffen said CPUC’s actions today; will ensure that the state can keep the lights on even during periods of greatest demand. Indeed, “this Decision takes an approach that is not only bold but dynamic and pragmatic with two stages of additional procurement,” continued Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma. Thus “our vote today will task the utilities to invest in clean generation necessary to address climate change with accountability.”
Besides driving California to reach a clean energy future; the CPUC must also ensure that the state has sufficient energy resources to meet customer demand. Therefore, the procurement ordered Thursday is in addition to the 3,300 MW that the Commission ordered previously; to come online in 2021-2023
The procurement will also add to the 4,000 MW from resources already contracted to come online between now and August 2024; particularly, these resources are associated with other state energy programs such as the Renewables Portfolio Standard. Thus, the procurement will act as a new, clean reliability foundation for California’s electric sector.