Planning for California’s Clean Energy Future

Photo courtesy of enXco, Inc.

To meet California’s growing demand for electricity, the state benefits from a “loading order” of preferred energy sources originally adopted by the California Energy Commission and Public Utilities Commission in the state’s 2003 Energy Action Plan.

This state-wide comprehensive energy strategy emphasizes an aggressive expansion of customer energy efficiency and demand-side management programs and looks to secure additional renewable power resources before meeting remaining energy needs through efficient traditional generation sources. The loading order serves as the foundation for energy policies and decisions to develop and operate California’s electricity system in the best, long-term interest of the public, including PG&E’s customers.

PG&E’s 2011 Electric Power Mix

In 2011, PG&E’s retail customers used 74,864 GWh of electricity. Of that amount, 35,351 GWh were generated by PG&E’s own natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear facilities, as well as small amounts of fuel oil, diesel and solar energy. The remainder was purchased from third-party generators, via either contracts or the open market.

The chart below shows our overall electricity supply mix for 2011, which included both the energy PG&E generated and the energy PG&E purchased from third parties.

PG&E’s 2011 Electric Power Mix Delivered to Retail Customers

PG&E’s 2011 Electric Power Mix Delivered to Retail Customers

* “Other” includes diesel oil and petroleum coke (a waste byproduct of oil refining) and “Unspecified Power” refers to electricity generated that is not traceable to specific generation sources by any auditable contract trail.

** As defined in Senate Bill 1078, which created California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, an eligible renewable resource includes geothermal facilities, hydroelectric facilities with a capacity rating of 30 MW or less, biomass, selected municipal solid waste facilities, solar facilities and wind facilities. These figures are preliminary and will not be finalized until verified by the California Energy Commission.

PG&E’s Long-Term Procurement Plan

PG&E procures resources to meet its customer electricity needs based on a long-term procurement plan approved by the CPUC.

In preparing its plan, PG&E follows the “loading order” and puts first priority on reducing consumption through energy efficiency and demand-side resources, then renewable generation, and finally clean conventional electric supply.

For example, between 2012 and 2020, forecasts show PG&E meeting approximately 65 percent of the anticipated demand growth in its service area through energy efficiency and generation from combined heat and power and solar at the customer site. As a result, electricity sales would grow at an average rate of just 0.7 percent per year between 2012 and 2020; in the absence of these programs, electricity sales would grow at an average rate of 2 percent per year.

Composition of Projected Energy Load Growth Met by Demand-Side Resources, 2011 – 2020

Projected Energy Load Growth Met by Demand-Side Resources, 2011–2020

1 PG&E’s combined heat and power (CHP) forecast is based on historic installations.

2 PG&E recognizes that there is a great deal of uncertainty in any forecast of distributed generation installations. While costs of solar generation have dropped dramatically, the California Solar Initiative program incentives have declined as well. The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) will include CHP incentives, but funding is limited. Additionally, the feed-in-tariff (FIT) for CHP up to 20 MW is expected to result in some generation that offsets customers' usage, but the tariff was only recently implemented. It is expected that the efficiency requirements of both the CHP FIT and the SGIP program might act as market barriers to CHP installations.

Demonstrating Fuel Cell Technology

Photo of 1.4 MW fuel-cell on the campus of Cal State–East Bay.

As part of an effort to demonstrate and advance fuel cell technology, PG&E joined with university officials, regulators, local elected officials and others to dedicate a 1.4 MW fuel-cell power plant on the campus of Cal State—East Bay last year. While the fuel cell plant is not an eligible renewable resource, it is a low emission, innovative technology.

The plant, which is owned and operated by PG&E, converts hydrogen from natural gas and oxygen from the air into electricity. The stationary facility operates 24 hours a day and also generates heat used on campus. The plant provides enough electricity for about 1,400 homes and is used to heat some buildings and two swimming pools on the university's campus, with projected energy savings of $160,000 a year.

Students use the facility as a learning lab; additionally, a touch-screen information kiosk offers a detailed description of what a fuel cell is and how it works and shows how much power has been generated by the facility.

PG&E also has a 1.6 MW fuel-cell power plant in operation on the campus of San Francisco State University.