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California's Legislative Session Could Be Huge for State Economy and World Climate

This year’s legislative session here in California is poised to be a wild ride in clean energy – more ideas, intertwining issues, and intrigue are developing than in the last 10 years. A signal that the state’s clean energy policy is coming of age, leaders and significant players are weaving all of the separate programs together and answering major policy questions. This progress can have a major impact on both California and the world around us.  It’s like Pangea, spreading apart and creating the new world – only much faster.

A game-changer for the West

Take AB 813 by Assemblymember Chris Holden, for example. The bill would create a regional electricity market in the West – something that would combine the state’s desire to expand its clean energy and climate policy and the need for all states, including California (with its high expectation for renewable resources), to balance and run their grids more affordably and effectively.

It is a policy solution that thinks large and small – taking into account the out-of-state pollution reductions necessary in order for California to move the needle on its climate goals while preserving participating states’ and communities’ control over their resource choices.

Even more clean energy progress

What’s more, a suite of bills aims to put power into the hands of local communities in the form of clean energy. In addition to a regional electric grid for the West, these bills are poised to extend clean energy opportunities to more Californians:

  • SB 1399 (Sen. Scott Weiner) would help schools and small businesses who cannot develop renewable energy onsite to access clean, distributed clean energy projects. Projects could be sited on existing buildings, developed property, landfills, parking lots, etc. Details would be determined in the upcoming Net Energy Metering proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
  • SB 1380 (Sen. Henry Stern) would create a state information clearinghouse for people and businesses to find out about clean energy funding and financing opportunities. Clean energy includes efficiency and weatherization, renewables, electricity storage, and demand response.
  • SB 1131 (Sen. Bob Hertzberg) would give to California’s agricultural and industrial sector energy-efficiency opportunities that have long been available to other residential and commercial sectors. It would do this by improving transparency in vetting projects at the CPUC.

Together, these bills advance California’s clean energy leadership. They broaden access for a greater variety of energy users – like small businesses, the industrial and agricultural sectors, and local governments – to help their communities breathe easier. The bills also empower more Californians to participate in fight against climate change on local and national levels.

All resources large and small

Another dominant theme this year is determining the roles of traditional energy providers – the utilities – and emerging players on the field. These new players include energy resources owned by customers and non-utility innovators in the markets for distributed solar panels, demand response resources, and energy storage.

One place this theme is playing out is in SB 1088 (Sen. Bill Dodd). The bill could threaten a wide variety of customer and third party-owned distributed resources, like those in the bills above ─ extremely problematic given these resources can help California more quickly and affordably fight climate change.

The tension between traditional energy providers and non-traditional, more distributed stakeholders is running through a number of issues like SB 1088, just below the surface, and lawmakers are likely to act on it this year.

We hope California can bring together ideas from the utility labor workforce and the distributed energy resource industry to create an approach to advancing a clean energy economy that promotes high-quality, well-paying jobs in a region where both large and small scale resources are thriving.

A big year for clean energy in Sacramento

Needless to say, all this action coming out of the state’s capitol points to a great, big year for clean energy. It could further establish California’s place at the cutting edge of climate action and clean energy innovation and set the direction for its policies for decades. It is worth staying engaged – both for decision-makers and others who have a major stake in clean energy and in California’s future.  These are not simple issues, but there are solutions that help California – its people, its jobs, and its economy – rise above.

By Lauren Navarro

Photo source: Flickr/Jeff Turner

Original Post

Content Discussion

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on April 27, 2018

Take AB 813 by Assemblymember Chris Holden, for example. The bill would create a regional electricity market in the West – something that would combine the state’s desire to expand its clean energy and climate policy and the need for all states, including California (with its high expectation for renewable resources), to balance and run their grids more affordably and effectively.

Lauren, let’s “take AB 813 by Assemblymember Chris Holden, for example”. It’s either:

1) A way to import clean energy from other Western states, or

2) A way for a) Wyoming-based Berkshire-Hathaway Energy Holdings, DBA PacifiCorp, to build a few pretty wind turbines then export $billions in coal-fired electricity to California; to b) justify the closure of a carbon-free Diablo Canyon (nuclear) Power Plant so imported Wyoming coal generation is profitable; to c) make in-state generation appear cleaner to gullible greenies by simply outsourcing it to other states (I think the saying is, “Out of State, Out of Mind”), and to d) open up in-state electricity markets to domination by Shell, Sempra Energy, and Chevron fossil fuel gas interests.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 29, 2018

Bob,

You assume that there will be a substantial amount of Western coal left for CAISO to import by the time the regional grid is established.

Coal generation in West has dropped from 230TWh in 2008 to 170TWh in 2017. See below. With closure of San Juan units in NM – Dec 2017 – coal generation will be below 160TWh in 2018. Will be below 100TWh by 2025.

Nat Gas usage – which is also down substantially from 2010 – will stay flat.

However, like you said in your first comment – plenty of additional clean energy to import from other Western states.

By the way, how has your NG been doing in CA so far this year? With huge drop-off in Hydro we should be seeing a lot more NG this year – right?

Yesterday set a record for lowest NG usage on CAISO – 9.2% – 47,297 MWh out of 512,586 MWh. Just for reference – renewables were 218,800 MWh – 42.7%.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on April 29, 2018

Massive slice for imports there, except around noon.

How do you know what the imports come from?

Wayne Lusvardi's picture
Wayne Lusvardi on April 29, 2018

Re: Coal generation in West has dropped from 230TWh in 2008 to 170TWh in 2017.

And precisely how much of the so-called renewable energy imported by California is in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates, which is a way to green launder coal power?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on April 29, 2018

Joe, Brown tried to ram approval of the Western Imbalance Market through the last day of California’s legislative session last year. It failed then and it will fail again, because the governor of the #1 coal-producing state in the country, Matt Mead, is demanding the right to sell coal-fired electricity in California. Even Sierra Club recognizes a disaster in waiting:

The Sierra Club is skeptical of a regional power grid and has slammed the governor for reviving the proposal in the final days of the legislative session. The text of Holden’s bill was published on Friday night, one week before lawmakers go home for the year.
…Some ratepayer watchdogs, though, say California could reap many of those economic benefits without giving up sole control of its power grid, which a unified western system would require. That loss of control has been a major sticking point for critics of Brown’s plan who worry that a new regional grid authority, with representatives from other states, would find ways to undermine California’s climate and clean energy policies.
Phillips, the Sierra Club’s California director, said Holden’s bill didn’t ensure that a regional grid operator would support clean energy rather than coal, and that California wouldn’t be forced to take electricity from PacifiCorp’s coal plants in Utah and Wyoming.

You quote me as saying there was “plenty of additional clean energy to import from other Western states.” Can you point me to that quote, Joe, or are you getting creative with your references again?

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 30, 2018

Good question EP… If you are willing to do a little work you can see what the imports from Bonneville were on that day. Not 100% of imports – but a big chunk.

However, the point of my slides is that entire Western grid is getting cleaner. Exports of CA solar will make that happen quicker. So really I don’t care where the imports come from.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 30, 2018

I have had this discussion with Sierra Club folks… I see their point but I disagree. Let’s see where they g as Western grid keeps getting cleaner. Like I said another 10TWh of coal generation dropping off the grid in 2018.

You quote me as saying there was “plenty of additional clean energy to import from other Western states.” Can you point me to that quote, Joe, or are you getting creative with your references again?

Scroll up the page Bob,

It’s either:
1) A way to import clean energy from other Western states…

I guess I added the “plenty”… There is plenty and more being added every year.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 30, 2018

By the way EP here are the hourly numbers for that chart.

At 2pm – in MW

Renewables – 14,576
Nuclear – 2,282
Hydro – 2,384
Natural Gas – 804
Imports – 242

So even if we assume that all the imports are FF we had a grid where Zero Carbon Sources were 95% of total for that hour.

For the day, if we assume that at least 1/2 of the imports were Hydro then the Zero Carbon share was about 80%. It’s the future.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on April 30, 2018

EP, note the Y-scale of CAISO’s renewables graph, compared to total generation, makes California renewables appear to be twice as productive as they actually are.

In 2016 I called CAISO out on this very topic. To their credit, they sent me back a very polite email acknowledging my point, with a promise to “review presentation of renewable energy” on their website. To their discredit, they didn’t do a damn thing about it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on April 30, 2018

Joe, you added “plenty” and you misrepresented a hypothetical I offered as my personal opinion. You and Bas are going to be called out on these deceptions from now on – be forewarned.

“Let’s see…” – what? After California has spent hundreds of $millions on transmission for a Western Imbalance Market, “let’s see” if it was a scam?

Nope – let’s plan responsibly, ahead of time. Let’s take decades of broken renewable promises as evidence of their unsuitability for generating grid electricity, and take at face value Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s plan…

…to continue to work with bulldog determination on coal initiatives, port expansion, next technology and value-added products. We don’t need to let up, we need to double down. We must assure coal’s continuity.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on April 30, 2018

At 2pm – in MW

One hour.  One instantaneous snapshot.  Pfft.

Joe, when imports comprise roughly HALF of California’s supply for a very large part of the day, the sources of those imports is crucial… and you completely ignore that.

I have to wonder, though:  if California signs up to a regional power authority and loses control over its own generation, could that save Diablo Canyon?  It would certainly be a plus for reliability of supply; where there’s one Aliso Canyon, there’s probably more waiting to happen.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on April 30, 2018

Incidentally, BPA’s total hydro capacity is just over 22 GW.  This being the spring melt, they are certainly able to operate at 100% capacity (and may HAVE to do so, to avoid dumping water over spillways and killing fish with the entrained nitrogen).

What’s the situation like in August, when the spring melt is long over and California’s air conditioners are cranked to the max… oh, and the autumnal equinox is closer than the summer solstice, causing the PV supply curve to drop much earlier in the afternoon? 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 30, 2018

Do you really consider this to be a big issue Bob?

Five years ago the renewable scale was at 5,000 MW. Now it is at 18,000 MW. What will it be at in another 5 years – at least 25,000 MW, right?

The bigger issue for CAISO graphs going forward will be how they deal with “negative imports”? In a few years CAISO will be exporting 5+ GW of solar to neighboring states on a regular basis. How should they graph that?

By the way some additional records on CAISO yesterday.

1) Lowest NG generation – 549MW at 2pm.

2) Lowest NG generation for a day – 39,918 MWh – 7.9% of full-day total

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on April 30, 2018

Bob,

The data just keeps proving you wrong.

– Western coal plants shutting down.
– Western grid keeps getting cleaner.
– CA grid continuing to use less and less NG.
– Western coal plant closures continue to line up.
– Hundreds of solar/wind projects coming online over the next decade.

Your team didn’t even make the playoffs and yet you believe they will win the championship. What’s up with that?

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on April 30, 2018

Joe,

That happening during that one hour is of no consequence.

It has to happen during each and every hour of the year for decades, not just in California, but all over the world, not just for electrical primary energy, but for all primary energy, to actually start reducing CO2, because of its long résidence time.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 1, 2018

The bigger issue for CAISO graphs going forward will be how they deal with “negative imports”? In a few years CAISO will be exporting 5+ GW of solar to neighboring states on a regular basis. How should they graph that?

If you weren’t obsessing over trivia, you’d ask yourself exactly how the system would cope with it.

What happens now is that California pays Arizona to take excess generation during the solar peaks.  Arizona has no use for this power, so it curtails its own solar generation.  Presumably Arizona demands a high enough price from California to pay for the PTCs and RECs that it has to forego as a consequence.  Basically, California pays Arizona to make certain numbers look good, and hang the actual benefits or lack thereof.  It is ALL greenwashing.  We can expect the future to include a LOT more greenwashing unless and until the system is changed to stop rewarding it.

If California was actually committed to benefitting the environment, the state would instead set up a bunch of ISO-controlled loads to at least try to consume this power productively.  Electric DHW tanks are an excellent prospect.  Overheating a 40-gallon DHW tank by 10 degrees uses about a kWh.  That looks like a decent sink for maybe 10-20 GWh per day.  Smart meters could control the heaters and bill separately for the ISO-controlled consumption (maybe 5¢/kWh vs. the retail rate).  There have to be other easy prospects.

Instead, California pays Arizona to take power while probably billing its own customers at on-peak rates.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 1, 2018

Sorry but it is of huge consequence. Just a few years go – you guys were all saying that this couldn’t be done.

As I pointed out, it wasn’t just a low carbon hour it was a low carbon day – more than 80% ZC. But go ahead and ignore that – it doesn’t fit world view.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 1, 2018

I completely ignore it ?? I sent you the link for BPA hydro imports. Obviously, I don’t completely ignore it.

However, I’m looking at where the “puck is going” and in the longer run – early 30s – the Western grid will be coal free and about 70% carbon free.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 1, 2018

Below is CAISO Monthly data for April 2018. Also, second chart for full years 2014-2017.

Bob, You will be happy to see that after a large drop-off in Hydro from 2017-2018 the share of generation from NG rose in April. Looks like 2018 will be a great year to compare against going forward – a normal Hydro year.

Still 70-75% Zero carbon for the month of April – not bad.

Will be interesting to see how NG does for the full year – 2018. Obviously it is a tough compare to 2017 with huge Hydro last year.

Where do you think NG will stand at Year-end Bob? Above or below 30% of total gen?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 1, 2018

Joe,

– Cherry-picked facts keep on being presented as status quo;
– Incremental increases continue to be represented as evidence of 100% sufficiency of renewables;
– With an abominable record of panning out, reliance on baseless predictions for the future abounds.

Case in point: the Michigan Wolverines did indeed make the NCAA playoffs, losing to Villanova in the final.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 1, 2018

Bob,

I present slides with multiple years worth of data. I’m showing trends. You have shown nothing to offer an alternative to these trends.

Of course the increases are incremental – all increases are incremental.

I had money down on Michigan to win it all. Loyola would have been good as well.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 1, 2018

EP – build a business around some of your ideas if you think they will actually work.

Meanwhile I’ll keep obsessing.

California will continue to contribute to the shutdown of coal throughout the West. Here’s the Western US coal generation for first two months of 2018. Down almost 5TWh Y-Y. Not bad for two months. Let’s see how the full year numbers pan out. As I said in a separate comment – I’m hoping for a 10TWh drop in total coal generation for Western US.

Check out New Mexico – what the hell happened there?

Bob would say – “it’s just an incremental decrease.”

Willem would say: “Two months is of no consequence”

What will you say when Western coal share drops below 150TWh, how about 100TWh, 50 TWh, 0TWh?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 2, 2018

Joe, why would anyone waste their time on your home-made graphs, with footnotes that link to themselves?

Here’s where gas will be ten years down the road if CA is successful at closing Diablo Canyon: it will be breaking new records of consumption, only rivaled by the consumption of champagne flowing from the water fountain in Sempra’s boardroom.

Why? Because renewables chuckleheads have apparently bought into the same transparent trick you pull here, when you try to hide renewables’ intermittency by presenting capacity as generation.

Here, my friends at Californians for Green Nuclear Power have shown how Jerry Brown and his friends at the CA Public Utilities Commission have hyped renewables in their Proposed Reference System Plan – a fairy tale, suitable for putting renewables enthusiasts to bed so they can rewire the West to burn BCFs of fresh methane. Now go to sleep…

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 2, 2018

Thanks Bob, I get a lot of compliments on those graphs. I’ll look into putting the data on a public server so that you can check/verify if Excel totals are correct.

Wondering about this comment:

Why? Because renewables chuckleheads have apparently bought into the same transparent trick you pull here, when you try to hide renewables’ intermittency by presenting capacity as generation.

Maybe this was a late night comment? Because obviously my charts explicitly show generation. The units = Avg MWh/day. no reference to capacity here at all.

Renewables generated 34% of CAISO total for April – much stronger than Nat Gas at 20%.

The data just doesn’t fit your view how things work.