California’s investor-owned electric utilities, local government-run community choice aggregators and other suppliers of electricity must add at least 11,500 MW of clean energy resources between 2023 and 2026 to support grid reliability through the closure of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s 2,240-MW Diablo Canyon nuclear power station — the Golden State’s single largest source of electricity — as well as the retirement of several aging natural gas-fired facilities.
In its highly anticipated procurement order adopted June 24, the California Public Utilities Commission set the timeline for new resources, measured by net qualifying capacity, at 2,000 MW by 2023, an additional 6,000 MW by 2024, another 1,500 MW by 2025 and 2,000 MW more by 2026. The Commission said it expects all of the resources procured under the order to be zero-emitting or to otherwise qualify under the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
“This is a landmark decision,” Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said June 24 ahead of the PUC’s 5-0 vote approving the order. “We are directing the various load-serving entities to procure what is an unprecedented amount of new clean energy resources … This is enough to power about two-and-a-half-million households in the state.”
Half of the 2026 additions must come from long-duration energy storage projects offering at least eight hours of discharge, twice the capacity of most large-scale lithium-ion battery systems California is adding in 2021. The other half of the 2026 additions must generate firm power, including through periods of peak demand, and must be available at least 80% of the time, most likely giving geothermal and biomass resources an edge, according to Rechtschaffen.
The mandated resource additions put California’s electricity sector on pace to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 38 million metric tons annually by 2030, lower than a 46-million-metric-ton target that regulators adopted in 2018 and upheld in 2020.