California sets long-term electricity reliability and climate goals

California sets long-term electricity reliability and climate goals

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given its approval to plans guaranteeing long-term sufficient electricity resource investments, including transmission, for the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The CPUC has put in place an integrated resource planning (IRP) process to ensure that California’s electric sector meets its GHG reduction goals while simultaneously maintaining reliability at the lowest possible costs.

The bill has set a 35 million metric ton (MMT) 2032 electric sector GHG planning target, which is more stringent than the 46 MMT GHG target  previously adopted, and which equates to 73% Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) resources and 86% GHG-free resources by 2032.

The CPUC has also decided to adopt a portfolio of cost-effective preferred resources that includes approximately 25,500 MW of new supply-side renewables and 15,000 MW of new storage and demand response resources by 2032. The CPUC believes that this portfolio will provide enough clean energy to power approximately 11.5 million homes.

 The newly announced preferred system plan portfolio diverges from the one previously adopted in that it includes more solar and battery storage, as well as new long-duration storage, out-of-state wind, and offshore wind resources. The decision to include offshore and out-of-state wind resources highlights their increased viability as cost-effective resources to help meet state goals. The CPUC is confident that the modeling and independent analysis undertaken by the California Energy Commission demonstrates that the portfolio meets stringent reliability standards.

Preliminary analysis of the CPUC’s preferred system plan portfolio of the load serving entities (LSEs) would seem to indicate there is sufficient space for all of these new resources on the existing transmission system, with the CPUC believing that only limited transmission upgrades will be needed by 2032. 

The decision also demands utility procurement of two battery storage projects that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) had identified as alternatives to transmission upgrades in the previous Transmission Planning Process (TCP) cycle. These alternatives are capable of delivering the same level of system reliability at lower costs to ratepayers.

“The decision provides direction for procurement of an unprecedented amount of new clean energy resources. It keeps us on the path toward achieving our state’s ambitious clean energy targets, while ensuring system reliability,” declared Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen.