Energy Exchange

Electric fleets are the future of transportation, this California regulator explains how we get there

 

This post is the second in our Innovation Series

If you’ve ever wondered why some California cities consistently rank among the nation’s most polluted, the answer is simple: cars and trucks.

California’s transportation sector is responsible for about 80% of the state’s smog and 50% of its climate pollution, and much of that pollution comes from the vehicles traveling up and down our highways.

Fortunately, the state is at a turning point: over half a million drivers have made the switch to zero-emission vehicles. And more commercial fleet owners also see benefits to investing in zero-emission vehicles.

I recently sat down with Steve Cliff, the Deputy Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board to learn more about what the state is doing to accelerate the transition to cleaner cars and trucks.

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Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Innovation series / Comments are closed

Trucking companies, utilities and innovators work together to put more electric vehicles on the road

This post is the first in our Innovation Series

One of the largest sources of climate pollution is the transportation sector, which is responsible for about a quarter of our nation’s greenhouse gas pollution. It is clear that to reach our climate goals, we must reduce car and truck emissions.

One way to reduce harmful air and climate pollution is by electrifying the transportation sector, especially long-haul trucks, buses, delivery vehicles, garbage trucks and regional “day cab” tractors used at ports. Heavy-duty vehicles are not only responsible for significant climate pollution, they are also responsible for about 30% of Nitrogen oxide pollution. These emissions can increase cancer risk, neurological and metabolic diseases, and cause respiratory and cardiovascular damage.

Toxic air pollutants like these are often hyper-localized, disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color who are more likely to live near major highways, ports, and distribution centers. A recent EDF study of Oakland’s air pollution, for example, observed residents living near one particular freeway (home to much of the city’s diesel fueled traffic) were exposed to concentrations of black carbon 80% higher than a similar road.

Electrifying these medium and heavy-duty vehicles therefore reduces both pollution that harms human health and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the fuel. But making this win-win transition will require significant technological and political support to succeed. Fortunately, a growing number of innovators are adopting and/or developing tools to expand the number of medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles on the road — ultimately reducing harmful pollution and preserving a clean, reliable and equitable electric grid.

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California aims to hit ambitious climate goals through electrification

It’s been a good couple of weeks for clean energy in sunny California, which continues to move buildings and transportation away from dirty fossil fuels. This increased focus is well-placed: emissions from the transportation sector remain unacceptably high, accounting for nearly 40 percent of harmful pollution in the state; buildings are also a significant contributor, responsible for as much as 25 percent of the state’s emissions. Without committing to the electrification of these sectors – quickly – ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the state will be that much more difficult to achieve. Thankfully, a number of recent developments at the state level prove that California has what it takes to transform these sectors for good.

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Posted in California, Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

California says goodbye to its last nuclear power plant. What will replace it?

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a momentous final decision to close the state’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon. This outcome represents the culmination of over a year of effort initiated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in 2016. When PG&E first brought this to the commission, they called for the closure because the plant had become uneconomic in the face of customers increasingly leaving the utility for Community Choice Aggregators, like CleanPowerSF, and a changing electric grid that relies more on flexible, distributed energy resources like wind and solar.

With its recent decision, the CPUC agreed with PG&E, stating that renewing Diablo Canyon’s license to operate beyond 2025 would not be cost-effective. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency / Read 9 Responses

Varied Resource Portfolios to Clean up California’s Grid

If music has taught us nothing else, it is that more is better. Three Dog Night taught us that “one is the loneliest number,” the Beatles taught us that we need help from our friends to get by, and Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock reminded us that “it takes two to make a thing go right.”

Those lyrics apply just as easily to our electric grid. That’s because on the grid, it is best to have a bigger, varied group of resources.

Through the Integrated Resource Plan proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission is requiring California’s big three utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric – to create energy portfolios that are balanced, cost-effective, and position the utilities to meet state climate and energy targets. This was codified in SB 350 (De León), which required the Commission and utilities to develop these integrated resource plans (IRPs). Accordingly, the Commission has set forth the following specifications: Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy / Comments are closed

New California Demand Response Decision Comes Equipped with BUG Repellent

engineer-with-controls_rfIf you are anything like the typical Californian, you likely took the opportunity to get outside this summer and explore the great outdoors. Chances are you also took plenty of insect repellent to avoid becoming the latest offering at the mosquito buffet. Here in the Golden State, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is also fighting off BUGs – lest you think the CPUC is branching out into new regulatory territory, they are targeting the kind that harm our environment and public health: back-up generators (BUGs) that run on fossil fuels.

State regulators recently issued a proposed decision to end the use of fossil-fueled BUGs as a form of demand response – a clean energy tool intended to reward people who reduce their electricity use during periods of peak demand, or shift it to times of day when clean, renewable energy is abundant. Unfortunately, dirty, fossil-fueled generators are sometimes used to reduce demand from the electric grid during demand response events, but this does not help California meet its aggressive climate or clean energy goals.

Demand response programs should encourage people, buildings, and companies to use energy in a way that reduces the state’s need to make electricity from polluting sources. That’s why the CPUC’s recent proposal is a huge, positive step forward. However, there are also some changes that could make these advancements even more impactful.

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