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California Takes New Step Toward 100% Clean Energy by 2045

July 5, 2021
With an eye on ensuring electric grid reliability and meeting clean energy goals, CPUC orders utilities to procure 11,500 MW of new, clean electricity resources to come online by 2026.

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With the goal of ensuring California’s electricity reliability while also meeting clean energy goals, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently approved a historic decision ordering utilities to procure 11,500 megawatts (MW) of new electricity resources to come online between the years 2023 and 2026.

That would be enough energy to power approximately 2.5 million homes, with all of the resources procured coming from preferred resources, such as distributed energy resources (including energy efficiency and demand response), renewables and zero-emitting sources, the CPUC said in a press release about the development.

This new order augments the 3,300 MW that the CPUC previously ordered to come online in 2021-2023; the 1,325 MW of energy storage required under Assembly Bill 2514 (2010); and the estimated 1,500 MW that will be procured pursuant to two recent decisions adopted to address extreme weather events and summer reliability.

“The procurement will 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,” the CPUC said, “and act as a new, clean reliability foundation for California’s electric sector.”

100% Clean Energy by 2045

According to the CPUC, its decision facilitates the integration of high amounts of renewables required to meet the state’s renewable and clean energy goals and ensure reliability. It’s also going to help California meet its goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045. “This represents the largest capacity procurement ordered at a single time by the CPUC,” it adds, “and is the largest requiring only clean resources.”

CPUC says the new resources are also needed to respond to more extreme weather events, while replacing electricity generation from more than 3,700 MW of retiring natural gas plants and 2,200 MW from Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s retiring Diablo Canyon Power Plant (whose replacement has been planned for years).

“California leads the nation in transitioning to a clean energy economy,” CPUC President Marybel Batjer said in the press release. “Already, more than 63% of our power comes from zero carbon resources. We are the first in many categories—solar, rooftop solar, geothermal, batteries, energy efficiency, and other clean energy resources. We are on track to meet or exceed our state’s ambitious long-term targets, which call for 100% clean electricity by 2045.”

A New Step in the Right Direction 

According to CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, the new directive covers the output of four large nuclear power plants or 20 natural gas plants. Included is solar, wind, geothermal and long-duration storage—pumped hydro facilities or other emerging technologies that can store energy for eight hours or longer. “Our actions today will ensure that we can keep the lights on during periods of greatest demand,” he added, “even as we retire Diablo Canyon and other natural gas plants.”

“Today’s decision to adopt a procurement plan that is greenhouse gas free, securing much-needed clean energy resources for the future, is a major step in the state’s path to carbon neutrality,” Patrick Sinclair, executive director of the California Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions (CARES) told Energy-Storage.news.

Sinclair also told the publication that CARES applauded the decision to include the 1,000 MW long-duration procurement in particular, adding that it could play a major role in helping the state meet peak demand and keep lights on when renewables like wind or solar were less available. “We have a long road ahead to achieve the clean energy future the state has envisioned,” he added, “but we know it is possible with the right resources.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.