Edison Warns California Won’t Make its Greenhouse Gas Limits

By Published On: October 5, 2021

Edison International added its voice to warnings that California will not reach its greenhouse gas reduction mandate set for 2030 under the 15-year old AB 32 without major changes at the state and federal levels, and government financial assistance.

“Planning, siting and permitting must evolve to reduce project lead times and forge new social contracts,” states EI’s report. “In addition, public and private institutions must align themselves to help build and maintain public support to sustain the transformation to a decarbonized economy.”

Like environmental and renewable advocates, the parent of the all-electric utility also calls for lowering regulatory, licensing, and other hurdles to new zero-carbon generation. It also calls for expediting new high voltage lines, government funding for long-distance transmission lines to remote renewable plants and acceleration in the numbers of electric vehicles on state roads.

The report, Mind the Gap, Policies for California’s Countdown to 2030, also calls for mandating that new residential construction and some commercial buildings be all electric by 2025. That increases the pressure on the California Energy Commission that just passed a 2022-24 building efficiency code, which did not mandate the electrification of new construction. Edison also points to the need for more funding to enable the switch from gas heaters to electric heat pumps for space and water heating and cooling in buildings.

Accessing more data on available generation from neighbors

Edison also insists the CEC, the California Public Utilities Commission and grid operator work more closely with neighboring states to enable “more frequent and transparent information” about available generation that can be shared.

Another needed tool says the company is an expansion of demand response, both the customer base and variety of programs allowed in the market. For example, in place of sending to the grid an aggregated 200 MW of demand reductions from less air conditioning in homes for four hours during really hot days, allow it to be broken up into four 50 MW, one-hour blocks, Edison spokesperson Jeff Monford told Current. The technology is there to allow it and “research and participation trends over the past several years has shown that customers are unwilling to tolerate discomfort for long duration and consecutive days.”

To reduce greenhouse gases 40% below 2019 levels by the end of the decade as required by California law, emissions must drop 4% each year. By contrast they have only dropped on average 1% each year. The total in 2018, the most recent year available, was 418 million metric tons. The company estimates that emission levels could exceed the 260 million metric ton limit set for 2030 by up to 90 million metric tons.

This should not be so, Edison argues. Although the “rate of transition required to achieve a decarbonized economy is unprecedented,” it concludes it is “achievable with clear commitment and action.” Those actions should include subsidies for electric car purchases and EV chargers. The state should also be doing more to phase out fossil-fueled appliances, according to the report.

To get on a true path to lower emissions, the state’s resource planning and procurement policies must evolve faster to address changing grid reliability requirements, Edison explained. One needed change is for the CPUC to set emissions at 38 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in place of 46 MM tons as part of its Integrated Resource Planning.  The plan seeks to ensure new resources are green, helping meet California’s economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions-reductions goals.

Edison’s specific proposals also call for:

  • Replacing the 50 kV threshold with a 150 kV threshold, to “significantly accelerate the construction” of needed subtransmission facilities. Currently, voltage lines above 50 kV that help interconnect resources in the range of 10 to 200 MW and larger electrification loads, such as those for transportation depots and fleets, must be approved by the CPUC. SCE says lines up to 150kV should be subject only to city and county permit approvals.
  • Adopting statewide heat pump targets to achieve the electrification of one-third of all space and water heating used in buildings by 2030.
  • Eliminating fossil fuel appliance incentives. The subsidies continue to extend the use of gas-fueled appliances.
  • Dedicating cap-and-trade funds through 2030 to support efficient building electrification appliance incentives.
  • Establishing better indoor air quality standards to reduce adverse health outcomes associated with indoor gas stoves.
  • Expanding retrofit requirements to install electric alternatives when replacing fossil-fueled appliances by certain dates.

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