SDG&E’s Dirty Energy Plan

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Last year’s shuttering of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) set off a pitched debate about the region’s near- and long-term energy future. Now, despite ample opportunities to replace the power from SONGS with renewables, energy efficiency, demand response, and other pollution-free energy options, it appears San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is aiming to max out its procurement allowance with 600 MW of . . . natural gas. If approved, this massive contract for more fossil generation will be unjustified, inconsistent with state regulation, and come at a significant cost to ratepayers, public health and the climate.

Back in March, the California Public Utilities Commission directed utilities in Southern California to replace a small portion of the shuttered SONGS with clean options like solar and renewable energy, letting utilities decide how to fill the majority of the need. While the decision didn’t go nearly as far as it could have to support a transition to clean options, it at least urged utilities to look first at “preferred” clean resources and allowed for competitive bidding between these clean resources and their conventional counterparts. SDG&E apparently has no intention of even going that far..

After much wrangling from our conservation partners, SDG&E reluctantly shared its energy procurement plans. The utility is planning to sign an exclusive multi-billion dollar deal to purchase 600 MW of new gas generation – the maximum amount allowed by the Commission’s decision – without even allowing pollution-free sources to compete in an open bidding process.

In addition to flagrantly disregarding the Commission’s order for a competitive process, SDG&E’s plan for 600 MW of natural gas procurement does not account for recently approved transmission projects, which are expected to reduce local electricity needs by 800 to 1600 MW. SDG&E has done nothing to prove that there’s really a need for them to procure all that natural gas after California ratepayers have already covered the hefty cost of those transmission upgrades. Talk about a waste of customer dollars.

This rush for more natural gas would also have a big price tag for our climate. The California Air Resources Board has already reported an increase in climate pollution from natural gas generation in the wake of the SONGS closure. Permanently replacing that carbon-free (albeit plenty problematic) nuclear resource with more fossil power would put California even father behind in meeting its aggressive carbon reduction and clean energy targets. That’s a loss on climate progress that California simply can’t afford.

There is no reason to increase our dependence on the fossil fuels of the past when we can instead meet 100 percent of Southern California’s new energy needs reliably and affordably with clean options. Vote Solar is joining forces with advocates including the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to oppose this reckless plan. We urge state regulators and our utilities to show real leadership by intentionally and deliberately transitioning to clean energy.

About Author

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

  • Daniel Ferra

    In California we emit 446 million tons of Carbon Dioxide a year, 1,222,000 Toxic Tons a Day, The California Public Utility Commission is thinking of replacing San Onofre and Hydro losses to generating with Natural Gas Power Plants condemning our kids and our planet to Heating UP and Burning UP, unless We start Changing and Fighting for real Sustainable Energy Policies.

    The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

    This is how we generate our electricity in 2011, natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of electrical power generated in-state. Nuclear power from Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 9.15%, large hydropower 18.3%, Renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

    There is 9% missing from San Onofre and with the current South Western drought, how long before the 18.3% hydro will be effected?

    We have to change how we generate our electricity, with are current drought conditions and using our clean water for Fracking, there has to be a better way to generate electricity, and there is, a proven stimulating policy.

    The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether Homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020.

    FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:
    Wind
    Photovoltaics (PV)
    Solar thermal
    Geothermal
    Biogas
    Biomass
    Fuel cells
    Tidal and wave power.

    There is currently 3 utilities using a Commercial Feed in Tariff in California Counties, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Sacramento, are paying their businesses 17 cents per kilowatt hour for the Renewable Energy they generate. We can get our Law makers and Regulators to implement a Residential Feed in Tariff, to help us weather Global Warming, insulate our communities from grid failures, generate a fair revenue stream for the Homeowners and protect our Water.

    The 17 cents per kilowatt hour allows the Commercial Business owner and the Utility to make a profit.

    Commercial Ca. rates are 17 – 24 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Implementing a Residential Feed in Tariff at 13 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 2,300 MW, and then allow no more than 3-5 cents reduction in kilowatt per hour, for the first tier Residential rate in you area and for the remaining capacity of Residential Solar, there is a built in Fee for the Utility for using the Grid. A game changer for the Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying, Home Owner and a Fair Profit for The Utility, a win for our Children, Utilities, and Our Planet.

    We also need to change a current law, California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems.

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

    Roof top Solar is the new mantra for Solar Leasing Companies with Net-Metering which allows them to replace One Utility with Another, we need to change this policy with a Residential Feed in Tariff that will level the playing field and allow all of us to participate in the State mandated 33% Renewable Energy by 2020.

    This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. Home Owners for a Residential Feed in Tariff, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

    Do not exchange One Utility for Another (Solar Leasing Companies) “Solar is absolutely great as long as you stay away from leases and PPAs. Prices for solar have dropped so dramatically in the past year, that leasing a solar system makes absolutely no sense in today’s market.

    The typical household system is rated at about 4.75 kW. After subtracting the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $9,642 to own this system. The typical cost to lease that same 4.75 kW system would be $35,205 once you totaled up the 20 years worth of lease payments and the 30% federal tax credit that you’ll have to forfeit when you lease a system. $9,642 to own or $35,205 to lease. Which would you rather choose?

    If you need $0 down financing then there are much better options than a lease or PPA. FHA is offering through participating lenders, a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest and only a 650 credit score to qualify. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are available throughout the state that require no FICO score checks, with tax deductible interest that allow you to make your payments through your property tax bill with no payment due until November 2014. Both of these programs allow you to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as any applicable cash rebate. With a lease or PPA you’ll have to forfeit the 30% tax credit and any cash rebate, and lease or PPA payments are not tax deductible.

    Solar leases and PPA served their purpose two years ago when no other viable form of financing was available, but today solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to keep a solar system on your roof.” Ray Boggs

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