Major Energy Economies: California

← Back to Library

Climate Policy for the Real World

This paper synthesizes the reasons for California’s successful climate policy. It considers the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of policy, concluding that performance standards have led in reducing statewide emissions. Market failures beyond the lack of a price on carbon mean the best policy approach combines the three types of policy: performance standards, economic signals, and research and development (R&D).

Avoiding Counterfactuals in Performance Incentive Mechanisms: California as a Case Study

This white paper is the first in our Incentive Mechanism Design series, which offers perspective on how regulators might decide to design performance incentive mechanisms for success. The paper examines California’s Risk-Reward Incentive Mechanism (RRIM) as a case study to show that, while counterfactuals may be appropriate as an adjustment mechanism, they can also lead to unfair outcomes and unnecessary regulatory conflict.

Regional Transmission Organizations: Recommendations for the West

This issue brief examines the potential benefits of expanding CAISO’s footprint to include other Western balancing areas through the lens of improved economics, renewable power integration, and conventional power plant retirements. The report is consistent with recommendations for policymakers articulated in Planning for and Investing in Wires. The report, summarized here also makes the case against a capacity market for a Western RTO recognizing, as Texas did, that it can be a lifeline to inefficient, old, uneconomical plants.

California 2030 Low Carbon Grid Study

This study investigates how California’s electric sector can help achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Modeling results from Phase I of the study reveal that the state can reduce emissions by more than 50 percent below 2012 levels with minimal rate impact, minimal renewables curtailment, and at not cost to reliability. Phase II adds new insight, adding detailed flexibility analyses and examining the effects of drought and different resource mixes on the grid.

The California Climate and Clean Energy Policy Story

Negotiations by the world leaders at the COP21 summit should be guided by California’s experience. California’s climate efforts stem largely from its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and then decrease emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This paper describes how performance standards and carbon pricing mechanisms have helped the state reduce emissions and increase renewable energy while creating economic growth, putting the state well on its way to achieving its emissions goals.

Beyond 33% Renewables: Grid Integration Policy for a Low-Carbon Future

This report offers a roadmap for moving beyond 33 percent renewables, as required by SB 350, passed this year. While there are no clear signals that would suggest significant management issues with higher penetrations of renewables, the CPUC does recognize the growing need for ramping, handling over-generation, and additional ancillary services.

Moving California Forward – Full Report

California can accomplish its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 with proper attention to smart growth. By emphasizing better land use patterns, and supporting better transit and more walkable neighborhoods, carbon reductions of this magnitude are not just technically feasible, but would also save billions of dollars on infrastructure, fuel, and health costs while empowering economic growth and helping counter income inequality.

Moving California Forward – Summary for Policymakers

California can accomplish its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 with proper attention to Smart Growth. By emphasizing better land use patterns, and supporting better transit and more walkable neighborhoods, carbon reductions of this magnitude are not just technically feasible, but would also save billions of dollars on infrastructure, fuel, and health costs while empowering economic growth and helping counter income inequality.

California’s Golden Energy Efficiency Opportunity

Over the past 40 years, energy efficiency programs in California have saved residents nearly $90 billion on their energy bills. In this report, the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that California is ahead of schedule to reach its 2020 goal of saving 32,000 gigawatt-hours through efficiency measures. NRDC also makes recommendations for how state agencies, decision makers, and stakeholders can make further progress on energy efficiency in California.

Integrating Higher Levels of Variable Energy Resources in California

This paper examines the impact of high shares of solar PV on the California system, reviewing the resources needed to maintain resource adequacy under a variety of scenarios. The report analyzes several options for relieving pressures portended by California’s famous projected “duck curve,” finding that interties to other regions provide the largest opportunity to mitigate the duck.

← Back to Library