Energy in California
California's peak electricity demand occurred on July 24, 2006, at 2:44 pm, 50,270 Megawatts. Since then measures to reduce peak load have resulted in decreased peak demand. In 2011, the peak load was 45,545 MW, on September 7. By 2020 California is required to obtain at least 33% of its electricity from renewable resources, and 50% by 2030, excluding large hydro. 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.
Electricity system data
As of 2014[update], 33.0% of electricity was imported, and of that, 45.4% was of unspecified origin.
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Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for more than one-half of 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 a few small coal-fired power plants operate in California.
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, with a target for California to obtain a third of its electricity from renewables by 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. This lost generation will be made up with renewables.
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 the largest solar power installation in the world. Nevada Solar One is a new solar thermal plant with a 64-MW generating capacity, located near Boulder City, NV. There are also plans to build other large solar plants in the Mojave Desert. An additional 392 megawatts of solar-derived electricity is expected to be added by the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility by the year 2013.
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 megawatts of installed capacity. The Alta-Oak Creek Mojave wind project is an approved 800 MW wind farm proposal which would include up to 320 wind turbines in the mountains between Tehachapi and Mojave. Kern County is reviewing a number of other proposed wind projects that would generate a combined 4,600 megawatts of clean energy if approved.
Due to high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other state, primarily hydroelectric power from states in the Pacific Northwest (via Path 15 and Path 66) and coal- and natural gas-fired production from the desert Southwest via Path 46.
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.
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.
Resources and consumption
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. 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 is the most populous state in the nation, but its total energy demand is second to the state of Texas. The state has one of the lowest per capita energy consumption rates in the country due in part to the relatively mild weather comparative to the rest of the nation.
California’s crude oil output accounts for more than one-tenth 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 and accounts for more than one-tenth of total U.S. capacity. 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Solar power in California
- Wind power in California
- Offshore oil and gas in California
- California independent system operator
- List of power stations in California
- California Electricity Crisis
- List of articles associated with nuclear issues in California
- California ISO Peak Load History
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