December 14, 2011

California key energy policy draft report available for comment

The following information was released by the California Energy Commission:

The California Energy Commission has released a preliminary draft of its 2011 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). The report, the state's main energy planning document, discusses the wide variety of issues facing California's energy sector. The draft report provides recommendations to ensure reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound supplies of electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuels to meet the needs of the state's economy and growing population.

"Energy planning in California is becoming increasingly complex," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller. "Because of the long timelines involved to build infrastructure such as energy efficiency programs, distributed generation programs, utility scale power plants, transmission lines, pipelines and refineries, smart decisions must be made well in advance of when additional energy is needed. As a matter of meeting policy and legislative mandates, the Commission will implement the state's loading order of first considering energy efficiency resources, then adding renewable and efficient combined heat and power resources to meet electricity demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

One of those mandates is California's Renewable Portfolio Standards in which Governor Brown signed legislation (SBX1 2 (Simitian, Chapter 1, Statutes of 2011-12, First Extraordinary Session). The law states the intent of generating 33 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. "As California adds more renewable energy to its mix, accurate, long-term planning to ensure a reliable energy system becomes more important - and more difficult - than ever before," Weisenmiller added.

Governor Brown's Clean Energy Jobs Plan sets a goal of achieving "zero net energy" homes and businesses by increasing the energy efficiency in existing structures built prior to Title 24 building standards, adopting stronger appliance standards, installing renewable distributed generation, and adding efficient combined heat and power capacity. The Legislature has spoken as well about the importance of increasing the energy efficiency in existing buildings. Assembly Bill 758 (Skinner, Chapter 470, Statutes of 2009) directed the Energy Commission to implement a comprehensive, statewide program to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings, leading to the state's Energy Upgrade California program.

Assembly Bill 32 (Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, is another force driving the state's energy policies and programs. Meeting those environmental goals also will require increased energy efficiency, added renewable energy generation, additional renewable and combined heat and power distributed capacity, and a reduction in the state's consumption of fossil fuels for both electricity generation and transportation.

To achieve these goals, the 2011 IEPR calls for improved coordination between the state's major energy agencies. This includes a coordinated and open transmission planning process and continued research and development into more efficient energy technologies, including low-carbon transportation systems. "Our state remains the nation's leader in energy innovation, energy efficiency standards, low-carbon transportation systems and distributed generation policy, which will help California create new 'green' industries that will provide jobs and help the state's economy recover," said Weisenmiller.

The draft document discusses ways to streamline power plant permitting processes while protecting California's environment. It discusses issues facing California's nuclear power plants in the wake of this year's catastrophic events at Fukushima, Japan, along with other emerging market concerns.

Interested parties have until December 23, 2011 to provide written comments on the draft. Comments will be considered in the final document scheduled for release on January 24, 2012. Final adoption of the IEPR by the Energy Commission is expected in February 2012.

The 2011 draft Integrated Energy Policy Report is available on the Energy Commission's website here.


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