Energy in California
Energy in California per capita consumption is some of the lowest in the United States as a result of a long term policy of energy efficiency. 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.
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 no coal-fired power plants operate in California.
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. In 2017, the peak load was 50,116 MW, on September 1.
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, 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 1.8 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.
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. California's electricity costs per kWh are 17.4 cents per kWh and 14.8 cents per kWh for residential and commercial customers respectively. Due to high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, 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 imported coal by 2025.
The electric grid is made of up electric transmission and electric distribution, with electric production by itself averaging about 44% of the cost nationally. California was historically a leader in high-voltage transmission, which has led to increased wildfire risks. 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 from the Pacific Northwest including the California Oregon Intertie (Path 15 and Path 66) and to the east Pacific DC Intertie.
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 renewables have led to a peak demand and peak production imbalance creating a "duck curve".
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 data
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||Wind||Solar||Small hydro||Geothermal||Biomass||Large hydro||Coal||Nuclear||Natural gas||Unspecified||Renewable|
|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 (240,000,000 l; 63,000,000 US gal; 52,000,000 imp gal) 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. 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, 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 regulations
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.
- Solar power in California
- Wind power in California
- Offshore oil and gas in California
- California oil and gas industry
- California independent system operator
- List of power stations in California
- California Electricity Crisis
- List of articles associated with nuclear issues in California
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