Arguably, California is attempting to implement the nation’s most ambitious clean energy plan. That strategy is a convergence of the following elements:
• A 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2020.
• A state carbon-reduction and cap-and-trade program (AB32).
• Significant incentives and subsidies for distributed energy and storage, and demand management and efficiency.
• An electric vehicle (EV), natural gas, and transportation infrastructure development program.
• A clean jobs program.
• Add to the items above, new emissions and thermal-discharge restrictions on existing fossil plants, and some of the nation’s most onerous environmental, ecological, and land-use policies.
But the state has never existed as an island in the context of energy. Some of its water comes from other states (via the Colorado River, for example), and water is of course critical to electricity production. Hydropower from the Pacific Northwest provides a significant share of the state’s electricity. An insignificant amount of natural gas is sourced in California, but the state has the third highest consumption of that fuel for electricity production.
Some of the country’s best wind is located offshore California, yet few leaders, if any, are discussing how to harness it. Two nuclear plants have operated in the state for decades but no one talks about building new ones. And, despite what you may read about the California exodus, it’s still the most populous state in the nation.
Where is all the clean energy going to come from? Neighboring states, you say? Almost all of them face compliance with their own RPS and other clean-energy goals, though none nearly as aggressive as California (Fig 1). And California’s desire to reinvigorate its economy through clean energy means that it is restricting clean-energy imports to create in-state jobs.
The impact of California on the “rest of the West” is a complicated puzzle with many moving pieces and parts, contradictions, regional synergies, and opportunities. Pearl Street Inc and PGS Energy Training have developed an insightful workshop to help executives and managers at generating plants and headquarters locations understand the ramifications, nuances, opportunities, and pitfalls of the state’s clean-energy policy.
“California Clean Energy and the Rest of the West” debuted in April in Sacramento. It will be updated and repeated October 10-11 in Portland. Contact Jason Makansi (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
One can envision many different scenarios for how Western US energy flows will change over the next 10 years. Yet one thing is almost certain: Gas-fired gas turbines will play a bigger role in meeting the state’s challenges.