California regulators approved a proposal on Thursday that would require utility companies to buy more clean power, which many environmentalist groups have expressed their support for.
The proposal requires utilities to buy a minimum of 11,500 megawatts (MW) of capacity from zero-emitting or renewable resources between 2023 and 2026. The amount of power required is enough to provide power to nearly 2.5 million households.
Clean Energy Utilization
The new requirement would allow the state to better respond to extreme weather events that affected power sources and replace capacity expected to be lost from the retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in 2024-2025. Additionally, there are many other natural gas plants that would shut down within the next decade.
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has proposed the policy, which is the largest capacity procurement ordered at a single time. It is also the largest policy requiring only clean resources.
Earlier drafts of the proposal were opposed by several environmental groups that argued they required utilities to purchase up to 1,500 MW of capacity from fossil-fired generation. California’s power market primarily utilizes natural gas as its primary fossil fuel.
The U.S. West has been struggling with climate change that has caused extreme drought, record wildfires and heatwaves in recent years. The phenomena also destabilized California’s electric grid and caused intermittent, renewable wind and solar power in recent years.
Utilities in the Golden State imposed rotating blackouts last summer that affected more than 400,000 households and businesses, leaving them without power for up to two and a half hours at a time. The process was conducted during a time in August where energy supplies were critically low due to blazing hot days, Reuters reported.