Regulators Say No to More Fossil Fuel Power Generation in California

April 27, 2012

On April 19, 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) determined that the existing electricity supply can meet the state’s system needs through the year 2020. The CPUC voted unanimously that for Southern California Edison and PG&E, the two investor-owned utilities that serve the Bay and Los Angeles areas, long-term energy needs do not require building more gas-fired power plants. The CPUC decision found that “additional generation is not needed by 2020,” and “the record similarly does not support a finding of need for additional generation beyond 2020.

Throughout the proceeding, CBE and its allies emphasized the benefits of replacing power generated by burning natural gas with power from renewable sources such as wind and solar, which do not produce greenhouse gases and other pollution.

This decision opens opportunities to bring about a just electricity system. Low-income communities of color throughout the state can focus on the green jobs that come with building local, sustainable generation, and not have to spend their energy fending off proposals for new, dirty plants.

The decision is the culmination of the CPUC’s 2010 Long-Term Procurement Plan proceeding that evaluated the state’s energy needs into the next decade. A January 2012 decision in the same proceeding emphasized that California’s utilities need to first employ energy efficiency and conservation measures to meet customer demand; after that, the utilities must use energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. Only after all those supplies are exhausted may the utilities purchase power from fossil fuel plants.

Read other Summer 2012 newsletter articles.