Retro Credits Approved for Renewables

By Published On: October 9, 2014

The California Energy Commission Oct. 7 agreed to give its executive director the authority to set in motion a process to retroactively create renewable energy credits within the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System. The information system, commonly known as WREGIS, is an independent, renewable energy tracking system for the region covered by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. The system, which is governed by a seven-member committee consisting of representatives from stakeholder groups, tracks renewable energy generation and procurement by issuing a certificate for each MWh of renewable electricity generated and reported to the system. Certificates generally aren’t issued retroactively for renewable energy generation that occurred prior to when a generator is approved to use and begin reporting generation to the information system. Although the system’s operating rules allow for retroactive certificates under certain circumstances, until recently they didn’t provide a viable option for generators participating in California’s renewables portfolio standard to seek retroactive certificates. That’s because the rule required the administering state or provincial program to both request creation of retroactive certificates and pay for the staff time and expenses to create the retroactive certificates. The rule also didn’t provide a mechanism by which the Energy Commission could pay for the information system to create the retroactive certificates and then seek reimbursement from the generator requesting the retroactive certificates. In April however, a rule revision allowed the information system to create certificates retroactively “upon request from a state program” that requires tracking generation and allows entities other than the requesting state or province to directly pay the information system for the costs of creating the retroactive certificates. “The contents of this resolution will be incorporated into the next edition of the RPS guidebook when it is revised, which is planned for early next year,” Kate Zocchetti of the Energy Commission’s renewable energy division explained. In a separate action, the commission voted 4-0, with commissioner Janea Scott absent, to approve $12 million in grants and no-interest loans to entities working for the advancement of energy efficiency and alternative fuel programs. Over $6 million in no-interest loans were awarded to the Tulare City School District, Kern Community College District and Yuba Community College District for energy efficiency upgrades at their facilities, with the school district and Kern college district receiving $3 million each. About $5 million in grant funds were given to Community Fuels, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and South Coast Air Quality Management District to support their alternative fuels programs. Community Fuels, a San Diego County-based biofuel producer, received $4 million of the total to increase the efficiency and production rate at its Stockton biodiesel facility. The loans are funded by Prop. 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act. The grants are being provided through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which supports the development and use of alternative and renewable fuel projects and advanced transportation technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Additionally during the meeting, the Energy Commission decided to put off for another three weeks a vote on whether to approve construction of the Huntington Beach Energy Project. This 939 MW facility proposed by a subsidiary of AES Corp. could eventually replace the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station, which now sits on the 26-acre Orange County site. Commissioner Andrew McAllister said the decision’s being rescheduled for the Oct. 29 business meeting because of a large volume of comments received from the public on the issue. “We determined that we need more time to look at all them,” McCallister said. “We want to make sure that we’re giving them the diligence that they require.” The proposed facility would entail two independently operating, three-on-one, combined-cycle gas turbine power blocks. It would be built upon the demolition of the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station. The Energy Commission has been reviewing the AES application for the Huntington Beach facility since August 2012. Last month, a siting committee recommended approval. If the commission ultimately approves the $525 million project this year, AES has scheduled demolition and construction work to take place between the first quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2022.

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