Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard for Power Plants – California

Date: 15 Jan 2009 | posted in: Energy, environment | 0 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

In January 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted an interim Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) in an effort to help mitigate climate change. The standard is a facility-based emissions standard requiring that all new long-term commitments for baseload generation to serve California consumers be with power plants that have emissions no greater than a combined cycle gas turbine plant. That level is established at 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. "New long-term commitment" refers to new plant investments (new construction), new or renewal contracts with a term of five years or more, or major investments by the utility in its existing baseload power plants.

The PUC’s actions implement Senate Bill 1368(Perata), which prohibits load-serving entities (investor-owned utilities, energy service providers, community choice aggregators) from entering into long-term financial commitments for baseload generation unless it complies with a GHG emissions performance standard.

TheCommission approved a policy statement indicating its intent regarding GHG emissions in October 2005. Since then, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law SB 1368 and Assembly Bill 32 (Nuñez/Pavley), which requires reporting and verification of statewide GHG emissions.

"The Emissions Performance Standard is a vital step towards achieving the emissions reductions goals of AB 32 and protecting our ratepayers against the risk of high carbon prices in the not-too-distant future," said PUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. "At the same time, this decision leaves the door open to new, advanced technologies and carbon sequestration projects that will allow the energy industry to develop clean and sustainable sources of power."

The adopted emissions performance standard is intended to serve as a near-term bridge until an enforceable load-based GHG emissions limit is established and in operation. At that time, as directed by SB 1368, the Commission will reevaluate and continue, modify, or replace this standard in consultation with the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board.

Other states are now following California’s lead. As of July 2007, Washington has passed a similar piece of legislation (Washington SB6001 – enacted, May 3, 2007). Oregon also has a Emission Standard rule for power plants enacted in 2002, that requires payments for CO2 offset projects.