ORIGINAL REPORTING: Has California built its last natural gas plant?
Has California built its last natural gas plant? Two pending decisions from state regulators will decide how California moves toward a clean(er) energy future
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 22, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Final conclusions on these questions will likely be reached by the end of this year. They will determine how quickly the nation moves toward the New Energy future.
Two pending decisions from California utility regulators will show whether the state is committed to its renewable energy goals or bound to natural gas for years to come. The most notable decision is the future of NRG Energy’s proposed 262 MW Puente natural gas project. [In May, 2018, a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative las judge (ALJ) issued an opinion against the Southern California Edison (SCE) proposed portfolio of distributed energy resources (DER) that would replace the natgas plant. Shortly after that, CPUC President Michael Picker issued and alternative decision in favor of the portfolio. The California system operator examined alternatives to Puente and concluded a DER portfolio made up of solar, efficiency, demand response, and storage can be cost-effective and reliable.
On another front, Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) decision to shutter its 2,200 MW Diablo Canyon nuclear facility by 2024 or 2025 leaves a gaping hole in generation capacity that needs to be filled. The utility proposed a $1.3 billion energy efficiency investment as part of a 2016 agreement with renewable energy advocates over shuttering the plant. But the ALJ deferred approval of that investment, saying it should be addressed in the state’s new comprehensive planning. And the integrated resource planning (IRP) process has not taken up the issue. Natural gas appears to be the easy answer to fill the state’s capacity goals, but a recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times left many questioning whether the state is overbuilding that resource… click here for more