Energy Commission Helped With California’s Compliance Plan for Clean Power Plan

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was crafting its Clean Power Plan (CPP), it sought to establish whether a state could realistically meet the plan’s goal to combat global warming by meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

The EPA released its final rule for its CPP guidelines last year that required the nation’s existing power plants to cut, by 2030, emissions of greenhouse gases by 32 percent from 2005 levels. Power plants are the largest stationary source of greenhouse gases nationally, and among the largest sources in California.

The Clean Power Plan, which established state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, offers a flexible framework under which states may meet those targets.

Could California do it?

Coming up with an answer was work done at the California Energy Commission which conducted electricity sector analysis as part of California’s draft compliance report on the Clean Power Plan.

California was a strong fit for the analysis work given the expertise at the Energy Commission and Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 law that required California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The analysis that the Energy Commission’s Energy Assessments Division did included conducting production cost modeling of the state’s electricity system to test whether California could meet the CPP’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

That work was done under a range of conditions including assessing how the plan would work under average or low hydroelectric power availability, the effect of high- and mid-electricity demand, and how the state would fare with or without power from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The Energy Commission’s analysis found that California could reach the CPP targets.

“California will be able to meet the CPP greenhouse gas reduction targets primarily because the state has been implementing efforts to meet aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals since the passage of AB 32 in 2006,” said Melissa Jones, senior policy analyst at the Energy Commission.

The Energy Commission participated in all aspects relating to the CPP - from supporting the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in preparing California’s comments on draft rules released in 2014 to developing California’s draft compliance plan to meet the Clean Power Plan, said Jones.

Earlier this month, the ARB said that California's landmark cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions and proposed amendments to extend that system will be used to comply with the CPP.

California is the first state in the country to publish a draft blueprint to meet the mandate aimed at cutting existing power plant emissions.

The ARB is holding a meeting on the draft proposal Sept. 22.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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