Library filed under Energy Policy from California
California officials are beginning to worry that the state's focus on transitioning to renewable-energy sources could lead to power shortages in the near term. The state has been so keen to develop renewables that relatively few conventional power generators, such as gas-fired plants, have been built lately. That risks a possible energy shortfall in certain places if the economy rebounds any time soon.
Prompted by outcry over a proposal to place a power transmission project through Solano and neighboring counties, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, has introduced legislation to close a loophole exempting local, publicly owned utilities from state oversight. ...Existing law requires that any person proposing to construct an electric transmission line must first obtain a certification from the Commission. However, local publicly owned electric utilities do not currently fall under this law, and thus lack oversight.
California's push for renewable power could prove costly to consumers. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to get one-third of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 could cost $115 billion in new infrastructure, according to a report released Friday by the California Public Utilities Commission. Last year, a similar report from the commission estimated the cost at $60 billion.
The intent to prevent California's utilities from using out-of-state wind and solar generation to meet the new 33% RPS requirement is not obvious from the provisions of the bills. The exclusion results from a change in the requirements concerning the "delivery" of generation to California. Under California's current RPS legislation, in order to qualify as an eligible renewable energy resource such that California's utilities can count that generation against their RPS requirements, out-of-state generators are required to deliver the electricity to California simultaneous with its generation.
Harnessing the sun and the winds will be looked at Monday by the Mohave County Supervisors. The supervisors will look to hold a special workshop in the coming months dealing with renewable energy projects in Mohave County. No workshop has been scheduled, but, upon recommendation of the county planning and zoning board, one is highly likely.
While President Obama has made development of cleaner energy sources a priority, an effort is underway to close off a large swath of the Southern California desert to solar and wind energy projects. In a move that could pit environmentalists and alternative energy industries against each other, the senator wants hundreds of thousands of acres in California designated as a national monument.
But the company behind one of the two wind energy projects completed last year in California, which formally dedicates the project today, doesn't expect more than a handful of these projects to be built in California in the near future. ...Other states are eager to provide wind energy to Californians. A consultant's report presented to the California Energy Commission in late 2008 noted that large wind farms in Wyoming, Washington, Utah and Oregon are emerging as sources for municipal utilities seeking to meet state renewable standards.
California increasingly is depending on solar energy to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the state's landmark 2006 global warming law. According to regulators, utilities received 30% more bids for solar power projects in 2008 than in the previous year while wind farm proposals dropped by half and "very few" geothermal tenders were filed. The fact that utilities received 24,000 megawatts' worth of renewable energy bids last year (more than enough, if built, to meet the 33% renewable energy target) speaks to the frothy state of the market.
Federal approval could come early this year, after a seven-year fight with opponents, including environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who might see the towers on the horizon five miles offshore from their vacation homes. Will we have the same battles here, or will Marin accept the installation of renewable energy producing facilities "in our backyard"? Enthusiastic support for the abstract concept of renewable energy sources now meets the reality of what's on the ground.
Why has California basically stalled, while other states have forged ahead? I put the question to V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies in Sacramento. First, Mr. White pointed out, California was the early leader in wind power - it installed several big projects in the 1980s (one of which, Altamont Pass, has been criticized for harming birds). Not much has happened since, however, and the fact that California moved early "means that the easy projects are already in," said Mr. White.
I must respectfully disagree with Chris Matalas of Apple Valley about the Apple Valley Town Council’s rejection of wind turbines. While I agree that renewable energy will be a part of our future, especially in the light of the current political (not scientific) imperatives, I am among many who consider wind farms a “blight” on the landscape.
Now we're being asked to give a blank check to the DWP and City Hall to spend billions of dollars on the nation's largest solar energy initiative ever -- a proposal that has no planning, no financial analysis, no engineering study. Approval of Measure B on the March 3 ballot would be a costly mistake. It will cost ratepayers dearly, set back hopes for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and provide the special interests and politicians with a license to steal.
Marin Clean Energy, the community electric power aggregation scheme, is gaining steam. The effort to fundamentally change Marin's energy supply is of such importance that voters deserve to make the final decision. The issue should be placed on the November 2009 ballot.
Opponents of the Sunrise Powerlink are vowing to keep on fighting despite Thursday's vote by the California Public Utilities Commission approving the big power line from Imperial County to San Diego. Groups representing consumers, environmentalists and backcountry activists say the process was unfairly tilted in favor of San Diego Gas & Electric, which proposed the line in 2005. They are weighing legal options, such as asking appeals court judges to review the decision to make sure it was done properly.
The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday cleared the way for construction of the Sunrise Powerlink, a contentious transmission line that promises to bring more reliable and renewable power from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. The 4-1 vote allows San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to move forward with the 123-mile, $1.9 billion power-line project, which could deliver enough electricity to serve 650,000 households.
The nearly 8 percent rate increase Redding Electric Utility will seek Tuesday for next year and 2010 could be just the beginning of a long, steady and rather steep cost climb for customers. Rate forecasts through 2014 show REU imposing identical 7.84 percent increases each year while still chewing through wads of cash. ...Redding has made up for the lost hydropower, in part, by commissioning a pair of large gas-fired turbines at its plant on Clear Creek Road. The utility has also entered long-term contracts for wind and biomass power. The wind and biomass have allowed REU to meet state renewable energy mandates. But all three power sources cost more than twice as much as hydropower, adding $10.5 million each year on average to REU's fuel tab, Hauser said.
If state regulators follow through with an administrative law judge's recommendation to reject the Sunrise Powerlink, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. still has other options to get the transmission line it seeks. The California Public Utilities Commission decision may be appealed to the courts, or SDG&E could ask the federal government to override state regulators and authorize the big line. A 2005 law allows utilities and other power-line builders to go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission if they want to build a line rejected by state authorities in areas where federal officials believe there isn't enough electric transmission.
A draft decision released late Wednesday by a California Public Utilities Commission judge would authorize the use of tradable renewable energy credits in efforts to comply with the state's renewable mandate. The decision, crafted by administrative law judge Anne Simon defines rules for a tradable REC market. ...With an eye on protecting ratepayers from excessive payments for tradable RECs, a transitional price cap of $50/REC used by investor-owned utilities would be implemented, the plan says. This means an IOU could not use for RPS compliance a tradable REC for which it paid more than $50 on a levelized basis.
The permit allowing windmills to go in didn't say they could sit there broken. Palm Springs is getting tough. If windmills are going to exist in the city they must be operational. A city that has welcomed windmills since it was first approached about them in the early 1980's is finding that many of those windmills are no longer working and it wants them fixed. The question is who's responsible for fixing them? Florida Power and Light (FPL), the owner of the inoperable windmills, was allowed to install and operate local windmill farms under a conditional use permit (CUP) stipulating if the windmill does not run for six months, it's declared a public nuisance and without a hearing, must be abated. ...So far FPL is all talk and no action as it has not been able to satisfy the city's or landowners' concerns.
Unless the DWP moves quickly to lock in contracts with alternative energy providers, it risks paying exponentially higher rates for green power to meet a 2010 deadline to double its renewable energy supply. Despite assurances from the Department of Water and Power, some city leaders are skeptical the utility will be able to meet and sustain the 20 percent renewable energy mandate set by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. ...customers are already paying more to cover the transition to green power. The DWP can and has tacked on a surcharge of as much as 4 percent a year to customer bills to cover renewable energy and natural gas expenses.