A debate over how the western United States gets its electricity, and whether it will undercut California’s climate agenda, will play out in public today.
Some context: California’s Independent System Operator is exploring bringing the multi-state energy provider PacifiCorp into a shared regional energy market. The fact that PacifiCorp’s portfolio currently includes 24 coal-powered plants worries some environmentalists and lawmakers who fear a deal will dilute California’s ambitious renewable energy goals. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, outlined those concerns in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown last week.
A Brown spokesman deferred to Cal ISO. Their position is that regional cooperation would actually encourage clean energy generation by allowing California to export excess electrons from sources like solar panels and import lower-cost renewables like, say, wind from Wyoming. And they note lawmakers pushed the ISO to become a “regional organization” by passing Senate Bill 350, last year’s major climate measure requiring renewables to generate half of California’s energy by 2030.
Expect the dispute to surface during a public Cal ISO meeting today on the potential regional energy market, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the organization’s Folsom headquarters.
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