Utility Dive Quotes Seth Hilton on Need for Substitute for Fossil Fuel Component in California’s 11.5 GW Electricity Resources Proposal

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Energy development attorney Seth Hilton was quoted in Utility Dive in articles titled “California utilities object to fossil fuel requirements in proposed 11.5 GW procurement package,” published June 15, 2021, and “CPUC ditches natural gas in 11.5 GW proposal but leaves door open for future fossil fuel procurement,” published June 24, 2021. The articles outline proposals prepared by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to procure 11.5 GW of electricity resources to support the state’s grid after the retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and several natural gas plants.

After pushback from environmental groups and others over the inclusion of 500 MW of natural gas resources in one proposal and between 1,000 MW and 1,500 MW in a second, CPUC scrapped one proposal and altered the other to make it 100% greenhouse-gas free. CPUC plans to work with the California Energy Commission over the next few months to study the reliability impacts of leaving fossil fuel energy sources out of the resource mix and may consider additional capacity procurement requirements after it issues a new proposal later this year.

According to Hilton, the revised proposal could affect California’s ability to meet system needs at those times of the day when solar energy is providing less energy to the system, meaning fossil fuels, one option to supplement solar, will need to be replaced by another new resource, including potentially storage.

The decision on the part of regulators to leave the question of fossil fuel procurement until later in the year also means that — in part due to the extensive permitting processes involved in simply repowering or expanding existing gas facilities — “one of the challenges they’d have is the later they push this, the longer it’s going to take to get the fossil fuel resources in place,” Hilton said.

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