California poised to order 11,500 MW of new electric capacity, mostly from renewables


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is set to consider two plans that would order utilities to procure 11,500 MW of new electricity resources to come online between 2023 and 2026, with most of the resources to come from zero-emitting sources.

The Proposed Decision of a CPUC Administrative Law Judge and the Alternate Proposed Decision of Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, are on the CPUC’s June 24 Voting Meeting agenda for consideration. The CPUC’s five commissioners will vote to approve one plan or the other.

The resources are needed to respond to more extreme weather events and replace electricity generation from more than 3,700 MW of retiring natural gas plants and 2,200 MW from Pacific Gas and Electric’s retiring Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Both proposals order at least 2,500 MW of zero-emitting resources to replace generation from Diablo Canyon. In 2019, the CPUC ordered new renewables and storage, which will result in a tenfold increase in batteries coming online this summer and next summer.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Station

The Proposed Decision requires that approximately 90% of the generating resources come from non-fossil sources with an additional 1,000 -1,500 MW from efficiency improvements, upgrades, expansions, or re-powering at existing or mothballed fossil-fueled generation sites. Projects located in a disadvantaged community are limited to capacity that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions by requiring specified amounts of green hydrogen or by adding storage.

The Alternate Proposed Decision requires around 95% from non-fossil resources, with an additional 500 MW from efficiency improvements, upgrades, or expansions at existing fossil sites, and requires all fossil improvements to increase efficiency and reduce the rate of GHG emissions.

The Alternate Proposed Decision also precludes any fossil-fueled projects in disadvantaged communities, and would not allow re-powering at mothballed or retired sites. The Alternate Proposed Decision also authorizes but does not require utilities to procure an additional 300 MW of fossil-fueled capacity at existing sites with a commitment to fuel with 30% green hydrogen by 2026 and 50% green hydrogen by 2031.

The procurement ordered in the two proposals is in addition to the 3,300 MW that the CPUC ordered previously to come online in 2021-2023, the 1,325 MW of energy storage required under Assembly Bill 2514 (2010), and an estimated 1,500 MW that will be procured under two recent decisions adopted to address extreme weather events and summer reliability.

The procurement would also add to the 4,000 MW from resources already contracted to come online between now and August 2024 associated with other state energy programs such as the Renewables Portfolio Standard.

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