On September 27, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006). The event marked a watershed moment in California’s history. By requiring in law a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, California set the stage for its transition to a sustainable, clean energy future. This historic step also helped put climate change on the national agenda, and has spurred action by many other states.
The California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) is the lead agency for implementing AB 32, which set the major milestones for establishing the program. ARB met the first milestones in 2007: developing a list of discrete early actions to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions, assembling an inventory of historic emissions, establishing greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements, and setting the 2020 emissions limit.
ARB must develop a Scoping Plan outlining the State’s strategy to achieve the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions limit. This Scoping Plan, developed by ARB in coordination with the Climate Action Team (CAT), proposes a comprehensive set of actions designed to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in California, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on oil, diversify our energy sources, save energy, create new jobs, and enhance public health.
This “Approved Scoping Plan” was adopted by the Board at its December 11, 2008 meeting. The measures in this Scoping Plan will be developed over the next two years and be in place by 2012
The Year 2007 has brought new legislative and regulatory challenges for all states --- both regulated and restructured --- and some of these challenges are affecting resource evaluation processes, and corresponding resource decisions, for the ultimate load-serving entities. The 2 most challenging legislative and business issues today ---- layered on top of continuing discontent with competitive market design and competitive procurement --- are the looming debates over mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards and mandated CO2 emission reductions. These frenzied discussions have led some policymakers and activists to call for a moratorium on new coal plants and the retirement of existing ones, along with a dogmatic focus on renewables and energy efficiency as the primary sources for new power supply. So --- it’s not just the restructured states that are undergoing political upheaval and second-guessing with respect to how electricity is provided to customers.
Whether you reside in a vertically integrated, rate-regulated, and cost-of-service ratemaking jurisdiction, OR a "retail competition" state that is undergoing some type of transformation back to a more regulated service obligation and pricing regime, you are facing changes in the way that federal and state legislators, and various activist groups, expect you to manage your electric generation portfolio.
The premise of my remarks today, which is a conclusion that I have reached during the past several months, is that I'm not sure how much of a "competitive market" or even a self-directed future I see for any retail service provider ---- no matter what state you're in or what type of regulatory framework you have.
This new, unilateral focus on environmental issues is obscuring the laws of physics --- with respect to how the electricity grid works and what it takes to keep the lights on --- and the laws of economics --- with respect to what electricity costs, based on the fuel source used. My overall prediction is, if our hands are tied by the passage of very specific government-mandated generation portfolio standards, and laws that impose penalties on the consumption of specific fuels, we will be dealing with reliability problems in all states, a deviation from “least cost purchasing” standards in traditional states, and a significant reduction in market-driven resource decisions in restructured states.