CEC Tweaks Climate-Change Nonprofit, Recommends Los Esteros

By Published On: February 18, 2005

Aiming to streamline operations of a nonprofit organization quantifying greenhouse gas emissions for the state, the California Energy Commission has revised the way consultants working for the California Climate Action Registry are selected. The revisions, approved during a February 16 CEC meeting, shift more responsibility for selecting registry consultants who assist energy companies in quantifying emissions from the commission to the registry. The reason for the change is so the nonprofit registry?a collaboration between public and private entities?can change selection procedures more quickly than the CEC, which faces regulatory hurdles, according to Chris Davis, commission spokesperson. The California registry plans to track generator emissions, expecting that participating businesses that reduce greenhouse gases will be able to obtain credits and sell them in the future. In January, Pacific Gas & Electric became the first investor-owned utility to report and certify its greenhouse gas emissions with the registry (<i>Circuit</i>, Oct. 22, 2004). Earlier this month, Calpine and Southern California Edison followed suit. The commission?s modest move came the same day that the historic Kyoto Protocol took effect. Signed by 141 nations, excluding the United States, the treaty aims to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions linked to global warming below 1990 levels. Also this week, the commission recommended recertifying the Los Esteros energy facility in north San Jose. The proposal would allow Calpine to operate its 180 MW simple-cycle project beyond the three-year operational limit and not require conversion to a more efficient 320 MW combined-cycle unit this year, as specified in the 2002 siting permit, which was fast-tracked. A recertification will allow the plant to ?continue to emit criteria pollutants into the greater San Jose region,? admits the proposed decision. These pollutants will contribute to regional smog and affect endangered species downwind from the plant if not mitigated. If the project is not relicensed, it?s likely that other facilities will be built in the region that will have similar environmental impacts, the proposal states. Also at the meeting, the commission voted to award $125,000 to Portland State University for additional studies scrutinizing which conservation and efficiency investments produced the most energy savings. The research will also look at consumer responses to two dynamic-pricing pilots that ended in 2004. Findings to date show that conservation is widely practiced but ?not fully tapped,? said Sylvia Bender, CEC project manager. The newly funded research will take a sociological approach, said Bender, looking at variations in residential conservation and energy-efficiency habits and patterns. Findings will be used to help develop policies to increase conservation and efficiency at the residential level.

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