A delegation of senators from Mexico visited with the California Energy Commission to talk about ongoing collaborations between Mexico and California on renewable energy and economic development opportunities.
The February 16 visit is part of follow-up activities resulting from an agreement that Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Mexican Ministry of Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell signed in 2014. The agreement promotes cooperation between the two governments to implement programs in low-carbon energy, clean technologies, biofuels, and energy efficiency.
The delegation’s Sacramento visit included meetings with Governor Brown, legislators, and business community members.
“The Energy Commission welcomes the opportunity to build bridges with our neighbors in Mexico,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Cooperation in the areas of renewable energy and clean technology can help create jobs and investment on both sides of the border.”
California represents only 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but its leadership demonstrates that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions and grow the economy. California’s international efforts are part of its ambitious goals to increase international collaboration on environmental protection and economic development.
To date, 11 Mexican states have signed the Under2 MOU, which is a global pact of subnational jurisdictions spearheaded by California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Energy Commission also recently signed agreements with the states of Aguascalientes and Jalisco to collaborate on clean energy policies and programs.
In 2016, the Energy Commission hosted a week-long visit for representatives from the Comisión Reguladora de Energía (CRE). Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister also participated in a collaborative energy efficiency workshop held in Mexico City. Workshop hosts included Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER), the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT)-SENER Energy Sustainability Fund, the Energy Working Group of the UC-Mexico Initiative, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Mexico Energy Initiative at Casa de la Universidad de California en Mexico.
The California Energy Commission approved a major report assessing energy trends and issues facing the state’s electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuel sectors during its business meeting yesterday.
The 2016 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which was adopted at the February 15 business meeting, highlights the state’s recent slate of legislative efforts – such as Senate Bills 32 and 1383 and Assembly Bills 197 and 1613 – which are designed, respectively, to enhance California’s nation-leading greenhouse gas reduction goals and to ensure they are implemented in a transparent and equitable way with benefits reaching disadvantaged communities.
It also examines how California’s electricity system has transformed in the last decade. The state has seen tremendous progress in the environmental performance of its electricity system in recent years, largely because of increases in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and decreases in coal-fired generation. Coal-fired electricity served about 11 percent of California’s electricity needs in 2011 and dropped to less than 6 percent by 2015, while installed capacity of renewable energy in California more than tripled since 2001.
The update also discusses efforts to decarbonize California’s energy system. The transportation sector accounted for about 37 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, and transitioning to zero- and near-zero emission vehicles will be a fundamental part of meeting the state’s climate goals. The state must also incorporate increasing amounts of renewable resources into the electricity sector and will need more resources that can quickly and cost-effectively ramp up or down to balance supply and demand and to compensate for the intermittency of renewable generation. Other areas discussed include the development of a regional Western electricity market, energy efficiency and demand response goals.
Finally, the report looks at the legacy of the state’s aging infrastructure and the impact that disruptions – such as the leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in late 2015 – can have on communities and on energy reliability, and examines efforts to enhance the state’s capacity to anticipate and remain resilient as the climate changes.
The Energy Commission publishes an integrated energy policy report every two years and an update in alternate years. In addition to assessing energy issues, the IEPR and the IEPR Update provide policy recommendations to conserve resources; protect the environment; ensure reliable, secure, and diverse energy supplies; enhance the state's economy; and protect public health and safety.
The California Energy Commission welcomed another new hydrogen refueling station to its network.
The Del Mar station, now open at 3060 Carmel Valley Road in San Diego, provides Californians with the fueling options they need to consider replacing their petroleum-fueled cars with hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles. Fuel-cell cars, like all-electric plug-in cars, do not emit smog-forming pollution. They help California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, which warm the earth and change its climate.
The Energy Commission has funded 48 hydrogen stations, with 25 open as of December 2016. There are plans to fund at least 100 stations for the initial introduction of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles in the California marketplace.
Hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars are much quieter to drive than gasoline-fueled cars. Fuel-cell cars have about the same range – 300 miles – on a full tank and they can be larger than the battery electric vehicles that rely on heavy batteries. Filling up a fuel-cell vehicle takes about three to five minutes and is similar to traditional gas cars that receive liquid gas.
California requires at least 33 percent of the hydrogen used by fuel-cell cars to be from renewable energy sources. Some stations will dispense 100 percent renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen refueling stations and vehicles are safe. They have been around for at least 20 years, supporting transit buses.
With transportation responsible for 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gases, zero-emission cars, such as hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars, can help California reach its climate change goals and reduce air pollution. That’s why the Energy Commission is funding hydrogen refueling stations and electric vehicle chargers.
See the status and locations of these stations here.
The following is a guest post from David Hochschild, a commissioner on the California Energy Commission, and Steve Chadima, a senior vice president at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy trade group.
With President Trump in the White House and the makeup of Congress being what it is, continued gridlock on federal climate change legislation is probably the best we can expect from Washington. But those who want America to build a clean energy future should not lose hope. States can lead the way.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of what may be the single most successful state energy policy in the United States: the California Solar Initiative. Passed by a Democratic legislature and signed by a Republican governor in 2006, this landmark state law helped bring the solar industry in America to maturity.
A decade ago, California’s solar industry was a collection of small companies serving only early adopters and off-the-grid homes. Costs were high and state incentives for solar energy in California were small and funded erratically.
The California Solar Initiative changed everything by creating a sweeping $3.35 billion solar incentive program with two critical characteristics: 1) an up-front commitment to fully fund the ten-year effort; and 2) customer rebates that declined over time, eventually falling to zero as the price of solar energy went down. The goal was to provide a stable, long-term runway to let the solar industry gain enough momentum to take off and then fly on its own.
The experiment worked.
The cost of solar energy has been reduced by 80% since 2006. More cleantech venture capital is invested in California today than in all of Europe and China combined, helping to accelerate solar innovation. More than 500,000 rooftop solar energy systems in California now generate clean electricity and have made the U.S. solar industry a beacon in our nation’s economic recovery. Today, the solar industry in California, the largest in the nation, employs 100,000 people, more people than all of the state’s utilities combined. Nationwide, America now employs three times more solar industry workers than coal miners.
Now that the funding for the California Solar Initiative has been exhausted and the program has run its course, the solar industry continues to grow. Since 2006, the solar industry has grown by an average of 65% annually. This year solar power will be the single largest source of new electric generation capacity added to America’s electric grid. This transformation provides proof that a well-designed incentive program can help a new technology move from an obscure niche in our nation’s energy portfolio to outpacing the growth of coal and gas in a single decade.
On the other hand, the federal investment tax credit for residential solar, taking a page from the California Solar Initiative, ramps down in 2018 and expires in 2021. This uneven treatment of fossil fuels and renewables at the federal level makes the role of states in accelerating a clean energy future more important than ever.
These technologies can follow the solar industry’s rapid growth trajectory if the same core principles of the California Solar Initiative are applied: an up-front, long-term financial commitment that leverages private investment, with an incentive system designed to decline steadily over time as prices inevitably drop. Electric vehicles and energy storage are where solar was ten years ago, and prices can be driven down through innovation and scale.
In the end, the transition from a society powered by fossil fuels to one powered by clean energy technologies reduces more than pollution. It also protects us from the risk of increasing prices. While finite resources become more expensive as they are depleted, technologies tend to get cheaper as they are scaled up. The time has come for states to seize the moment and build on the lessons learned from the California Solar Initiative to bring the next wave of clean energy technologies into the mainstream.
This commentary was originally published in Utility Dive on February 9, 2017.
A couple of California Energy Commission-funded research projects could help California’s more than 76,000 farms and ranches reduce energy consumption and become advanced energy communities of the future.
In June 2012, Ventura-based Biodico, Inc. received a $1.8 million grant through the Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program to develop a prototype of the world’s first biofuel refinery run entirely on renewable heat and power. The PIER program made state funds available for energy-related, public interest research, development and demonstration programs that advanced science or technology not adequately provided by competitive and regulated markets.
The refinery has been in operation for more than a year producing alternative fuels for tractors and other farm equipment. The facility combines anaerobic digestion, gasification and solar thermal generation into a single unit capable of producing up to 20 million barrels of biodiesel fuel annually from inedible crops and low-carbon feedstock.
The project is being demonstrated at the Central Valley’s Red Rock Ranch near Coalinga, a mixed farming operation that raises sheep and grows almonds, wine grapes, tomatoes, and wheat.
Red Rock is also home to another Biodico project. In June 2016, the company received a $1.2 million grant through the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program. The EPIC program supports innovative clean energy technologies and approaches that bring clean energy ideas to market and that benefit the ratepayers of California’s three largest electric investor-owned utilities.
Biodico will develop and test a new project management application that can help agricultural communities streamline permitting, financing and other procedural requirements so famers can better decide how to use renewable energy resources like solar, wind and anaerobic digestion in daily operations.
The application will provide information on available equipment vendors and compare the cost effectiveness and reliability of renewable energy technologies. The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, City of Huron, City of San Joaquin, Fresno County, Fresno Council of Governments and U.S. Navy will be involved in the development and testing process.
The evolving discussion of climate change in California was at the core of the 2017 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.
The symposium drew more than 830 stakeholders from government agencies, private industry, science and nonprofit groups for a deep discussion on how climate change issues are affecting the state and what to do about it.
The California Energy Commission was well represented among panelists at the two-day symposium, which was held January 25 and 26. Chair Robert Weisenmiller was joined by fellow Commissioners Janea Scott and Karen Douglas and others from the Energy Commission who weighed in on varying topics related to climate change.
In one panel discussion - on collaborative research for climate change and environmental justice - Weisenmiller used California’s growing forest fires as a problem whose response will require collaborative effort.
Several studies have shown that wildfires have grown in size in the West since the 1980s. A recent University of California, Berkeley study found that forest areas burned in large fires between 2003 and 2012 were more than 1,200 percent greater than those that occurred between 1973 and 1982.
“I hope that, by working together, we can cushion some of these impacts by engaging local government and community leaders - so that they can increase the ability of neighborhoods to prepare for these events,” said Weisenmiller.
At the same panel, Scott weighed in on the Energy Commission’s Senate Bill 350 barrier study. That study is an outgrowth of the SB 350 legislation requiring the Energy Commission to complete and publish a study on the barriers faced by low-income communities in accessing energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic energy generation and other forms of renewable energy. The study also sought to identify barriers to contracting opportunities for local small businesses in disadvantaged communities.
As part of the study, the Energy Commission did robust outreach to communities in Los Angeles, Riverside Truckee, and Ukiah, Scott said.
At a panel on Southern California’s resiliency and response to climate change, Douglas spoke about approaches used by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Project (DRECP).
The two-phase DRECP is a multi-agency effort between the Bureau of Land Management, the Energy Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Douglas championed how the DRECP’s approach to research on landscapes and biodiversity can impact ecosystems by building resiliency – and how such resiliency allows threatened and other species to survive and thrive.
The California Energy Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mexican state of Aguascalientes to cooperate on clean energy programs and policies.
The signing came during a January 30 visit to California, where Aguascalientes Governor Martín Orozco Sandoval met with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and addressed legislators on the Senate floor. During the meeting, he signed Aguascalientes to the Under2 MOU, which is a global pact of subnational jurisdictions spearheaded by California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The agreement between the Energy Commission and Aguascalientes will support cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including energy efficiency, renewable energy development and grid integration, low and zero-emission vehicles, and clean energy technology.
“Today’s agreement illustrates California’s commitment to working with its neighbors around the world to achieve a clean energy future. The agreement will help strengthen our partnership with Mexico,” said Energy Commissioner David Hochschild, who signed the MOU on the Energy Commission’s behalf.
Hochschild met with Governor Orozco Sandoval, where they discussed clean energy policies and programs and opportunities for infrastructure development in Aguascalientes, where manufacturing drives the economy, generating a third of the state’s gross domestic product.
California represents only 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but its leadership demonstrates that it is possible to take action to reduce carbon emissions and grow the economy. California’s international efforts are part of its ambitious goals to increase international collaboration on environmental protection and economic development.
In 2014, Governor Brown and the Mexican Ministry of Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell signed an agreement promoting cooperation between the two governments to implement programs in low-carbon energy, clean technologies, biofuels, and energy efficiency.
California and Mexico continue working together as strong partners in trade and combating climate change. California has multiple agreements with Mexico and Mexican states. The agreement signed is the Energy Commission’s third MOU with Mexico.
La Comisión de Energía Firma Acuerdo con el Estado de Aguascalientes, México para Apoyar Energía Limpia
La Comisión de Energía de California firmó un memorándum de entendimiento (MOU) con el estado de Aguascalientes para cooperar sobre programas y políticas de energía limpia.
La firma se vinó durante la visita a California en el 30 de enero, donde Martín Orozco Sandoval, gobernador de Aguascalientes, juntó con Edumund G. Brown Jr., gobernador de California, y se dirigió legisladores en el piso del Senado. Durante la junta, gobernador Brown se firmó Aguascalientes a la Under2 MOU, lo cual es un pacto global de jurisdicciones subnacional conducido por California y el estado Aleman de Baden-Württemberg para limitar el aumento de la temperatura media global a menos de 2 grados centígrados.
El acuerdo entre la Comisión de Energía y Aguascalientes apoyará cooperación en areas de interés mútuo, que incluye eficencia energía, desarollo de energía renovable y integración de la red, vehículos con bajas emisiones y vehículos de emisión cero, y tecnología de energía limpia.
“El acuerdo de hoy se ilustra el compromiso de California a trabajar con sus vecinos en el mundo entero para conseguir un futuro de energía limpia. El acuerdo ayudará fortalecer nuestra asociación con México,” dijo Comisionado de Energía David Hochschild, quien firmó el MOU a nombre de la Comisión de Energía.
Hochschild se reunió con el gobernador Orozco Sandoval, donde ellos discuterion políticas y programas de energía limpia y oportunidades para desarollo de infraestructura en Aguascalientes, donde la manufactura impulsa le economía, generando un tercio del producto intern bruto del estado.
California representa solo 1 por ciento de emisiones de gases de efecto vernaderno global, pero su lidergazo demuestra que es posible tomar acción para reducir emisiones de carbon y crecer la economía. Los esfuerzos internacionales de California son parte de sus metas ambiciosas para aumentar la colaboración internacional sobre la protección del ambiente y desarollo económica.
En el año 2014, Gobernador Brown y la Secretaria de Energía de la Ministria Mexicano Pedro Joaquín Coldwell firmaron un acuerdo para promocionar la cooperación entre los dos gobiernos para implentar programas en energía de bajo carbon, tecnologías límpias, biocombustibles, y eficiencia energía.
California y México siguen trabajando juntos como socios fuertes en comercio y el combate de cambio climático. California tiene múltiples acuerdos con México y estados Mexicanos. El acuerdo firmado es la tercer MOU de California con México.