California Public Utilities Commission limits extensions for gas-fired power plants

Community members and environmental justice organizations see decreased procurement as a step in the right direction, but decision allows more gas-fired generation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted on their decision in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) proceeding to extend, with limitations,  once-through-cooling (OTC) gas-fired power plants in environmental justice communities.

Community members and advocates have urged the Commission to adjust their proposed decision so it rejects fossil fuels in favor of clean and renewable resources, particularly in environmental justice communities, by specifying that if sufficient anticipated procurement is on track by December 31, 2020, the Ormond OTC extension will not be necessary. 

In the final decision, the CPUC says they “were persuaded by the comments of parties that these plants [Ormond Beach and Redondo Beach] create more harm in their community and/or would interfere with other plans already underway to redevelop their sites for community use.” The CPUC, however, takes a major step backward by allowing new fossil-fuel capacity to be built at existing sites and throughout the State if combined with other resources.

“Californians’ voices can and must be heard as they continue to demand for what they deserve — a clean energy future that moves us past fossil fuels,” said Luis Amezcua, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “These extensions, even with limitations, sets California back on its progress toward a clean energy future. We are currently seeing the consequences of climate change, and its devastating impact on Californians’ everyday lives shows how urgently we need to get off gas. The Commission owes Californians the climate leadership they need in this critical time.”  

“The Commission heard the message from community members who traveled from all over the state that we absolutely must retire the Once-Through Cooling plants,” said Shana Lazerow, representative of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “Environmental justice communities like Oxnard that have been bearing the burden of the state’s most polluting power plants deserve at least this – to have their voices heard. Unfortunately, while committing to shorter extensions for the old OTC plants, today’s decision opens the door to locking in more polluting plants for ten years, the opposite of our pollution reduction and climate mandates.

Lucas Zucker, policy and communications director for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy said, “The cost of renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency keeps dropping, while gas gets more expensive and more risky. There is no getting away from the fact that gas is a finite and polluting resource, in contrast to the state’s diverse mix of clean, renewable energy sources, including wind, geothermal, solar, battery storage, and other clean technologies.”

 

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

California Environmental Justice Alliance is a statewide, community-led alliance that works to achieve environmental justice by advancing policy solutions. We unite the powerful local organizing of our members in the communities most impacted by environmental hazards – low-income communities and communities of color – to create comprehensive opportunities for change at a statewide level. We build the power of communities across California to create policies that will alleviate poverty and pollution. Together, we are growing the statewide movement for environmental health and social justice. www.caleja.org

Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) is a base-building organization committed to advancing social, economic and environmental justice for working-class and immigrant communities in the Central Coast of California through policy research, leadership development, civic engagement, organizing, and advocacy. www.causenow.org

 


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