Latest Carbon-Cutting Blueprint Hashed Out at Public Workshop

By Published On: June 10, 2021

Electrifying buildings and transportation won’t get the state to carbon neutrality by 2045, staff from energy and air pollution control agencies said over two days of California Air Resources Board workshops this week. The focus was ARB’s significant update to its long-term plan to avert worsening climate change.


There also was general consensus that the state needs: 


  • New electricity rates to compel EV owners to charge at the right time for the grid;
  • Much more production of renewable fuels;
  • Reduction in high carbon-emitting refrigerants; and, 
  • Use of carbon capture by lands and technology—so far unsuccessful. 


Source: California Air Resources Board


Electrification of transportation must be accompanied by rates that induce utility and community choice customers to charge their EVs at times other than when the grid is stressed, reducing the use of gas-fired power plants. Also needed is more system-wide flexible demand from buildings and demand response, as well as far fewer vehicle miles traveled, according to California Public Utilities and Energy Commission staff.


Tariffs to encourage robust flexible demand response are needed to “address issues that plague the grid,” —from the duck curve, when high production of solar creates too much electricity during the day, to steep demand as the sun sets, Paul Phillips, CPUC staffer, said June 10, the second day of the workshop.


Even with major adoption of EV passenger vehicles across the state, gas fueled vehicles will remain on California roads past 2045. Therefore, alternate transportation options and lower miles traveled by car drivers are necessary, John Thurston with Caltrans said.


Building demand flexibility to vary energy use–whether via smart thermostats, or management software—in response to signals from the grid also needs to advance. Buildings in California are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions.


Continually rising utility bills, which have outstripped the rate of inflation the last seven years, create significant affordability challenges, particularly for low-income ratepayers, Phillips noted.


On top of that, greening the grid as required by SB 100 requires a tripling of wind and solar resources annually over the next decade, and an eight-fold increase in batteries. That alone is estimated to increase rates 6% a year, according to the Energy Commission’s Terra Weeks.


She also said that a renewable gas standard is probably needed, like the state renewable portfolio standard. That electricity standard currently requires that renewables supply 60% of power to the grid by 2030.


CARB updates its carbon reduction scoping plan every five years and the one under construction now reaches out 20 years. Modelling is being conducted to find the optimal paths to attain a carbon-free economy before mid-century.


The urgency of the climate crisis dictates where the state has to go, Richard Corey, ARB executive officer said. “We just need a path to get there,” he added.

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