Energy in California
Energy in California is a major area of the economy of California. California is the state with the largest population and the largest economy in the United States. However, it is second in energy consumption after Texas. As of 2018[update], per capita consumption was the fourth-lowest in the United States partially because of the mild climate and energy efficiency programs.
Energy consumption in California is dominated by transportation, due to high number of motor vehicles and long commutes. California also is responsible for about 20% of total jet fuel consumption in the United States. The second largest energy sector is industry. Energy consumption of the state's residential sector per capita is lower than that of any other state except Hawaii thanks to relatively mild climate.
California has large energy resources, being among the top producers of oil, hydroelectricity, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy in the United States.
Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for almost one-half of in-state electricity generation. California is one of the largest hydroelectric power producers in the United States, and with adequate rainfall, hydroelectric power typically accounts for close to one-fifth of State electricity generation. Due to strict emission laws only one coal-fired power plant remains operating in California, the 63-megawatt Argus Cogeneration Plant in Trona (San Bernardino County).
California's peak electricity demand occurred on July 24, 2006, at 2:44 pm, with 50,270 megawatts. Since then measures to reduce peak load have resulted in decreased peak demand, even as the state's population has continued to grow. On September 1 2017, the peak load was 50,116 MW. In 2020, peak load was 47 GW.
Although California's population increased by 13% during the 1990s, the state did not build any new major power plants during that time, although existing in-state power plants were expanded and power output was increased nearly 30% from 1990 to 2001. However, between 2000 and 2015, California built nearly 500 new power plants to supplement the 700 operating in 2000, boosting power supplies by 43%.
In 2016, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced new rules for connecting coming generation sources to grid. Connection costs must be estimated by the utility, and the developer is limited to paying within ±25% change of the estimate. CPUC expects the rules to lower overall costs for ratepayers. California requires 1.3 GW of utility storage and studies long duration bulk energy storage. The state allocates US$83 million per year during 2017-2019 for behind-the-meter storage. The plan was amended in 2020 to a combined $613 million by 2024.
California's electricity rates are among the highest in the United States as a result of the changing energy mix within the state, including aggressive construction of new natural gas power plants. As of 2016[update] California's electricity costs were 17.4 cents per kWh for residential customers and 14.8 cents per kWh for commercial. Due to high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, (32% of its consumption in 2018) primarily wind and hydroelectric power from states in the Pacific Northwest (via Path 15 and Path 66) and nuclear, coal, and natural gas-fired production from the desert Southwest via Path 46. Imported coal-fired electricity is expected to decline as power agreements expire and the city of Los Angeles phases out its use of such electricity by 2025. In 2018, curtailment was 460 GWh, or 0.2% of generation.
The electric grid is made of up electric transmission and electric distribution, with electric production by itself averaging about 44% of the cost nationally. As of 2019, transmission costs are the fastest-growing part of the bill, and Transmission Access Charges (TAC) are applied regardless of how far electricity travels across the grid.
California is part of the Western Interconnection, with transmission lines connecting to the Pacific Northwest including the California Oregon Intertie (with a capacity of almost 5 GW) as well as the Pacific DC Intertie, an HVDC line with a capacity of 3.1 GW which brings (predominantly hydroelectric) power from the Pacific Northwest to the Los Angeles area. From Utah, another HVDC line, Path 27, provides coal generated electricity to Los Angeles. From the Southeast, Path 46 brings up to 10.6 GW of electricity from sources including hydroelectric, fossil fuels, nuclear, and solar from generating stations in Nevada and Arizona.
While experts have stated that more grid connections to other states would allow California to export its excess solar and wind generated electricity to other states during sunny times of the day, and to import wind generated electricity when wind is blowing in other Western states but not in California, the legislature has resisted allowing more connections for fear of losing sovereignty over the state's electricity supply.
As of 2018[update], California had 80 GW of installed generation capacity encompassing more than 1,500 power plants; with 41 GW of natural gas, 26.5 GW of renewable (12 GW solar, 6 GW wind), 12 GW large hydroelectric, and 2.4 GW nuclear.:
Legal renewables requirementEdit
In 2015, SB350 mandated that electric utilities purchase 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Then in 2018, Senate Bill 100 was passed which increased the renewables requirement for electric utilities to 50% by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2045.
As of 2019[update], California natural gas plants supplied a third of the state's total demand for electricity, (almost half of the state's in-state generation) and supply the state with 41,000 megawatts of installed capacity. Because renewables cannot generate power 24/7, and it is cost prohibitive to install enough solar panels, wind turbines and batteries to supply sufficient electricity to ensure "resource adequacy" during extended cloudy or windless periods, researchers have estimated that the state will still need between 17,000 and 35,000 megawatts of natural gas fueled generation in 2050.:
California leads the nation in electricity generation from non-hydroelectric renewable energy sources, including geothermal power, wind power, and solar power. California has some of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the United States. The state is required to obtain at least 33% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020, and 50% by 2030, excluding large hydro. On May 13, 2017, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) reported that the state had broken a new instantaneous renewable energy record, with non-hydro renewables providing 67.2% of the total electricity on the ISO's grid, with another 13.5% being provided by hydro. Intermittent solar power has led to a peak demand and peak production imbalance creating a "duck curve" of low grid generation at noon and high generation at dusk.
Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) is the name given to nine solar power plants in the Mojave Desert which were built in the 1980s. These plants have a combined capacity of 354 megawatts (MW) making them at one time the largest solar power installation in the world. Other large solar plants in the Mojave Desert include the 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, opened in 2014, and the 550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and 579 MW Solar Star, both completed in 2015. The Beacon Solar Project, which generates 250 MW for the LADWP, was completed in 2017 in the northwestern Mojave Desert.
The Alta Wind Energy Center in the Tehachapi Mountains is the largest wind power plant in the United States with 1,548 MW installed capacity. A facility known as "The Geysers," located in the Mayacamas Mountains north of San Francisco, is the largest group of geothermal power plants in the world, with more than 750 MW of installed capacity. California's hydroelectric power potential ranks second in the United States (behind Washington State), and substantial geothermal and wind power resources are found along the coastal mountain ranges and the eastern border with Nevada. High solar power potential is found in southeastern California's deserts.
|Assembly Bill 2514 directed the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to adopt an energy storage program and procurement target. As a result, the CPUC established an energy storage target of 1,325 MW by 2020. In 2014, Southern California Edison commissioned the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project, which was the largest lithium-ion battery system operating in North America and one of the largest in the world at the time of commissioning. The 1-hour 230 MW Gateway Energy Storage project near San Diego became the biggest Lithium-ion grid storage in 2020.
California's single remaining operational nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, accounts for less than one-tenth of total generation. California used to have multiple other nuclear power plants, including the Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the Vallecitos Nuclear Center, and the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, in addition to various other smaller experimental or prototype reactors which intermittently supplied power to the grid, such as the Sodium Reactor Experiment. However all of these reactors have been shut down due to both economic and social factors. Currently, the owner of the Diablo Canyon plant, Pacific Gas & Electric, has plans to shut down the two reactors at the site in 2025. The plant produces about 18 TWh per year.
- California has several large conventional and pumped-storage hydroelectric powerplants.
- California receives 55.9% of the power generated by the Hoover Dam, on the Arizona/Nevada border, about 2236.38 GW⋅h on average.
- The 63 MW Argus Cogeneration Plant in San Bernardino County is the only coal-fired power station still operating within the state of California.
- The 1,900 MW Intermountain Power Plant in Delta, Utah is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Power is transmitted to California via Path 27.
- The 1,540 MW Four Corners Generating Station in the San Juan County, New Mexico is 19.2% owned by Southern California Edison.
The California Energy Commission is the primary energy policy and planning agency. As of 2017, California is a deregulated electricity market. It has a number of electric load-serving entities, including as of 2015 six investor-owned utilities (IOU), 46 publicly owned utilities, 4 electric cooperatives, 3 community choice aggregators, and 22 electric service providers. Major investor-owned utilities, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, include Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric. The remaining 3 IOUs are Pacificorp, Bear Valley Electric, and Liberty Utilities.
California has a regional transmission organization called CAISO covering its state, but is not merged with the rest of the Western United States; merging has been a major policy discussion with proposals considered in 2017 and 2018.
Electricity system dataEdit
As of 2018[update], 31.7% of electricity was imported out of which 33.2% was of unspecified origin and 29.2% were renewables.
|Year||Natural gas||Total Renewables||Solar||Wind||Small hydro||Geothermal||Biomass||Large hydro||Coal||Nuclear||Unspecified||Imported||References|
|Year||Wind||Solar||Small hydro||Geothermal||Biomass||Large hydro||Coal||Nuclear||Natural gas||Renewable|
|Year||Wind||Solar||Small hydro||Geothermal||Biomass||Large hydro||Coal||Nuclear||Natural gas||Total|
California's crude oil and natural gas deposits are located in six geological basins in the Central Valley and along the coast. California has more than a dozen of the United States' largest oil fields, including the Midway-Sunset Oil Field, the second largest oil field in the contiguous United States.
As of 2012, California's crude oil output accounted for about 8.3% of total U.S. production. Drilling operations are concentrated primarily in Kern County and the Los Angeles basin. Although there is also substantial offshore oil and gas production, there is a permanent moratorium on new offshore oil and gas leasing in California waters and a deferral of leasing in Federal waters.
California ranks third in the United States in petroleum refining capacity, behind Texas and Louisiana, and accounts for about 11% of total U.S. capacity, as of 2012. In addition to oil from California, California's refineries process crude oil from Alaska and foreign suppliers. The refineries are configured to produce cleaner fuels, including reformulated motor gasoline and low-sulfur diesel, to meet strict Federal and State environmental regulations. As of 2017, California has 18 refineries with a capacity to process nearly 2,000,000 US barrels (240,000 m3) per day.
Transportation is a major use of energy, driven in part by long commuting distances. In 2017, transportation accounted for 40% of total energy use, and in 2015, transportation was estimated to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Gasoline consumption fluctuates with economic conditions and gas prices, but has generally remained flat since 2000, despite increasing population. In 2017, Texas surpassed California in gasoline consumption, despite California having 6 million more vehicles. Most California motorists are required to use a special motor gasoline blend called California Clean Burning Gasoline (CA CBG). By 2004, California completed a transition from methyl tertiary butyl-ether (MTBE) to ethanol as a gasoline oxygenate additive, making California the largest ethanol fuel market in the United States. There are four ethanol production plants in central and southern California, but most of California's ethanol supply is transported from other states or abroad.
As of 2018, California is a leader in the United States in electric vehicles. California has the second highest rate of plug-in cars in the world, trailing behind Norway, and making up half of the electric car market in the US. The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, also called the Clean Transportation Program, arose out of 2007 law and is intended to drive growth in electric vehicles. California faces a potential shortage in charging stations, and setup California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) program to build more chargers.
Buildings use energy for lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, escalators, elevators and water heating. In addition, municipalities pump water which requires energy; by one estimate, about 19% of electricity is used to treat, pump, and discharge water.
California natural gas production typically is less than 2 percent of total annual U.S. production and satisfies less than one-sixth of state demand. California receives most of its natural gas by pipeline from production regions in the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and western Canada. Some of this is seasonally stored in the Aliso Canyon Oil Field, and its 2015 leak caused California to install grid batteries to compensate.
California has led the United States from 2010 to 2013 with its sustainable energy plans (also known as "clean energy"), with Clean Edge's Clean Energy Index for 2013 rating it at 91.7, with the second ranked state being Massachusetts, at 77.8, and Mississippi the lowest at 4.2. California is the only state with extensive deployment of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. California's venture capital investments in sustainable energy are greater than the other 49 states combined, at $2.2 billion in 2012. In August 2018, California's legislature passed legislation that mandates completely carbon-free electricity generation by 2045.
Energy-efficient lighting regulationsEdit
In September 2019, the Energy Department announced the reversal of a 2014 regulation that would have taken effect on January 1, 2020 and implemented the last round of energy-saving light bulb regulations outlined by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The ruling would allow some types of incandescent bulbs to remain in service. California, along with Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Vermont, adopted its own energy standards. The California regulations were challenged in court by light bulb manufacturers but a judge ruled it was proper under the congressional exemption previously granted.
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Source: CEC-1304 Power Plant Owners Reporting Form and SB 1305 Reporting Regulations. In-state generation is reported generation from units one megawatt and larger. Data as of June 24, 2019 ... In 2018, total generation for California was 285,488 gigawatt-hours (GWh), ... in-state generation dropped by 6 percent (11,494 GWh) to 194,842 GWh. ... Net imports increased by 6 percent (4,944 GWh) to 90,648 GWh,
- "California - Profile Overview". Energy Information Administration. 2020-01-16. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
California's total energy consumption is second-highest in the nation, but, in 2018, the state's per capita energy consumption was the fourth-lowest, due in part to its mild climate and its energy efficiency programs.
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Rothleder said overbuilding and curtailment are no substitute for the types of steps California will eventually need to take to fully replace fossil fuels with clean energy, such as investing in big energy storage projects, sharing more solar and wind power with neighboring states, ... Last year, for instance, the Legislature once again rejected then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for greater sharing of renewable energy across the West. The proposal would have unified the region’s disparate power grids, reducing [solar] curtailment by allowing greater sharing of renewable energy across state lines, but lawmakers feared California could lose its sovereignty over its energy supply.
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Electricity and Energy (imported included): Improved appliance efficiency standards and other aggressive energy efficiency measures; 33% renewables by 2020;
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Senate Bill 100 by state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) requires the state to obtain all of its electricity from clean sources — such as solar, wind and hydropower — by 2045. The bill also requires electric utilities and other service providers to generate 60% of their power from renewable sources by 2030, up from the 50% goal previously set for that date.
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But natural gas, a planet-warming fossil fuel, still generates one-third of the state’s power ... The consulting firm released a study in June finding California might still need between 17,000 and 35,000 megawatts of gas capacity in 2050. At the high end, that’s not far from the 41,000 megawatts of gas installed today.
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Some form of firm generation capacity is needed to ensure reliable electric load service on a deeply decarbonized electricity system. ... Natural gas generation capacity is currently the most economic source of firm capacity. The least-cost electricity portfolio to meet the 2050 economy-wide GHG goals for California includes 17-35 GW of natural gas generation capacity for reliability. This firm capacity is needed even while adding very large quantities of solar and electric energy storage. ... It would be extremely costly and impractical to replace all natural gas generation capacity with solar, wind and storage, due to the very large quantities of these resources that would be required.
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In 2016, total system electric generation for California was 290,567 gigawatt-hours (GWh), ... While California's in-state electric generation was up by 1.0 percent at 198,227 GWh compared to 196,195 GWh in 2015, net imports were down by 6,869 GWh to 92,341 GWh
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In 2017, total system electric generation for California was 292,039 gigawatt-hours (GWh), ... California's in-state electric generation was up by 4 percent to 206,336 GWh compared to 198,227 GWh in 2016 while net imports were down by 7 percent or 6,638 GWh to 85,703 GWh.
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In 2018, total generation for California was 285,488 gigawatt-hours (GWh), ... in-state generation dropped by 6 percent (11,494 GWh) to 194,842 GWh. ... Net imports increased by 6 percent (4,944 GWh) to 90,648 GWh
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Total system electric generation is the sum of all utility-scale in-state generation plus net electricity imports. In 2019, total generation for California was 277,704 gigawatt-hours (GWh), ... decrease in net imports to 77,229 GWh
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