California to vote on clean energy proposal as grid reliability issues loom

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 June 2021 19:48 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Power lines are shown as California consumers prepare for more possible outages following weekend outages to reduce system strain during a brutal heat wave amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Carlsbad, California, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

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The proposal would require utilities to buy at least 11,500 megawatts of capacity from zero-emitting or renewable resources between 2023 and 2026

June 24 (Reuters) - California regulators will consider a proposal on Thursday requiring utilities to buy more clean power, a measure backed by environmental groups but opposed by energy producers who have said such steps will undermine the reliability of the state's grid.

The proposal would require utilities to buy at least 11,500 megawatts (MW) of capacity from zero-emitting or renewable resources between 2023 and 2026. That energy would replace capacity expected to be lost from the retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in 2024-2025 and several natural gas plants in the middle of the decade.

The latest proposal replaced earlier drafts that were opposed by environmental groups because they called for utilities to buy up to 1,500 MW of capacity from fossil-fired generation. Natural gas is the primary fossil fuel used in California's power market.

Climate change is causing an extreme drought, record wildfires and heatwaves across the U.S. West, and has also destabilized California's electric grid along with the addition of intermittent, renewable wind and solar power in recent years. Solar and wind power production dips when the sun does not shine or winds are light, which can cause problems when demand is high.

Last summer, utilities in the Golden State imposed rotating blackouts that left over 400,000 homes and businesses without power for up to 2-1/2 hours when energy supplies ran short during a couple hot days in August.

That was just a sliver of California's nearly 40 million people, but could happen again this summer as utilities increasingly rely on renewable sources of energy as the state seeks to phase out power from carbon-emitting fuels by 2045.

Last week, the California ISO, which operates the power grid for much of the state, urged consumers to conserve energy to avoid rotating outages during a brutal heatwave.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio)