Utility Offers Blueprint for California's Clean Energy Future

Already a leader in clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction, California has set some ambitious goals for the future. One state utility thinks those goals are attainable and offers a plan for success.

Released in November, Southern California Edison's (SCE) "Clean Power and Electrification Pathway" outlines a strategy for California to achieve its environmental objectives.

California's greenhouse gas (GHG) goals call for a 40 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Meeting these ambitious goals, according to SCE, will require the state to make fundamental changes.

In researching the Pathway document, SCE explored three alternatives—electrification, renewable natural gas and hydrogen—and found a path based on electrification and clean power is the most affordable and feasible approach for California to reach its climate goals.

SCE singles out the electric sector in California for being at the forefront of the state's fight against climate change, currently accounting for only 19 percent of GHG emissions. This is a 24 percent reduction from 1990 levels.

In contrast, the transportation sector contributes nearly 40 percent of California’s GHG emissions and 80 percent of California’s smog-forming nitrous oxide emissions. The residential, commercial and industrial sectors combine to contribute approximately 30 percent of the state’s GHG emissions.

Based on these numbers, SCE emphasizes that for California to meet its 2030 GHG target, significant emission reductions will be required from consumers of liquid and gas fuels in the transportation and building sectors.

These reductions can be achieved through several integrated approaches, SCE said. They include integrated resource planning, continued implementation of the state's GHG cap-and-trade policies, electrification of the transportation sector, building electrification, and keeping electricity affordable.

With these approaches, SEC projects California can achieve 80 percent carbon-free electricity supported by energy storage, at least 24 percent (7 million) light-duty vehicles plus 15 percent medium-duty and 6 percent heavy-duty EVs, and up to 30 percent efficient electrification of commercial and residential space and water heating.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

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