Energy Exchange

Pollution monitors should be standard in LA’s oilfields

There are several reasons to be optimistic about environmental progress in Los Angeles. The city is making massive investments in electric vehicles, making clean energy more accessible to everyday people, and cutting pollution from the ports and freeways to name a few. But with over 60,000 Angelinos living less than 500 feet from an active oil well – LA could do more to protect our health and our environment.

Oil and gas wells emit toxic chemicals that can increase our risk of developing asthma, cancer and other health problems. Recent studies by the California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District have uncovered elevated levels of benzene, a cancer causing agent, and other toxic compounds coming from oil and gas equipment in Huntington Beach and Signal Hill. In Santa Fe Springs  a rupture at an oil site coated numerous homes with oil and generated noxious odors.  Then there are the communities in Culver City, South LA, Compton and elsewhere living mere feet from drill sites who experience odors and health ailments on a regular basis. Most notoriously, the Porter Ranch community next to the Aliso Canyon gas field still reports respiratory problems and other symptoms stemming from a major gas leak in 2015.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Aliso Canyon, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Utilities planning to move Californians to time-of-use pricing need solutions for low-income customers

By Andy Bilich, clean energy analyst, and Jamie Fine, senior economist

Last month, all three of California’s major investor-owned utilities submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission detailing their respective strategies for how to transition residential customers to time-of-use pricing. Time-of-use pricing, if done right, is a low-cost strategy to help meet California’s climate and clean energy goals. This innovative tool can help the state rely more on clean energy and less on fossil fuels, at the same time delaying the need for new infrastructure and reducing costs and harmful emissions. While a significant number of Californians will be able to adapt to this new pricing, the shift this summer and next will likely be more challenging for some ─ namely, low-income customers in hot areas of the state.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) supports time-of-use pricing for its benefits to the environment, the electric system, and customer’s pockets. However, the utility plans have some troubling gaps that may prevent the new system working for everyone. For California to pioneer a clean economy for all, the utilities and the commission must proactively overcome barriers facing vulnerable customers who need more help adjusting to time-of-use rates. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, Time of Use / Read 2 Responses

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 »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency / Read 9 Responses

The two clean energy bills that could take California’s climate action to the next level

Lawmakers recently addressed many critical issues for California: the housing shortage, parks bond, and early on in this year’s legislative session, climate change.

We urge Governor Brown to sign the important pieces of clean energy legislation that made it to his desk, including AB 1239 to support electric vehicle charging and AB 523 to protect clean energy funding for disadvantaged communities).

We are thrilled about three recent enactments: AB 1400 disallows Energy Commission funding of diesel generators in microgrids, and SB 242 and AB 1284, which standardize best practice guidelines for third parties administering Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) projects that finance energy efficiency upgrades or renewables installation for homes and businesses.

However, we can’t help but note that the biggest issues in electricity were left on the table to be further developed and voted on this fall and in 2018: SB 100, and AB 813. This extra time will give us the full, transparent, and deliberate legislative process that stakeholders were looking for in the last few weeks of session. So, what would these bills do? Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy / Read 1 Response

NASA helped locate over 300 methane hot spots across California

Last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC) released interim results from a NASA study that offers the most clear-eyed assessment yet of California’s largest individual sources of methane pollution.

Methane – a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming – is emitted from several different sources, including refineries, landfills, dairy farms, and oil and gas facilities. This new study identifies 329 of the largest pollution sources and offers insights to policy makers about opportunities for reducing these emissions.

Here are four key takeaways from the latest research.

California must focus on super emitters to cut pollution

Previous studies in other regions have shown that when it comes to methane, a small set of high-emitting sites, known as “super emitters” tend to be responsible for a significant amount of total emissions. The new CARB study suggests the same is likely occurring in California (measurements of actual amounts of the methane will be released in the second phase of the project next year).  Many times these super emitters occur randomly, such as when a major piece of equipment breaks and releases a large amount of pollution. Other times, as this study shows, these sites can be landfills, dairy farms, and refineries that simply release a lot of pollution.  Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

How community air monitoring projects provide a data-driven model for the future

Nicoyia Hurt, EDF Oil and Gas Health Policy Intern, contributed to this post

Downtown Los Angeles with misty morning smog.

This month marks the one year anniversary since the residents in Imperial County California did something pretty amazing.

After experiencing some of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the state, the community got together to launch the IVAN air monitoring project– a community website that provides real time air quality data collected from 40 different pollution monitors across the county.

Frances Nicklen said the air monitors make a huge difference to her community.

"The placement of these 40 air monitors throughout the Imperial Valley will be very beneficial so that the people can make educated decisions to protect their health and that of their families," she told the Comite Civico Del Valle. “We only have one valley, and we have to live here, and we need to make it a better place for all of our residents.” Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Data Access, Energy Innovation, Natural Gas / Comments are closed