Despite numerous Orders and direction from CPUC staff, PG&E and the other utilities were delaying executing a dozen BioMAT contracts that have been pending since last fall. The CPUC rejected a motion by PG&E to suspend the BioMAT program, but then PG&E claimed that a federal court decision on the ReMAT program justified the utility’s continuing refusal to sign BioMAT contracts. After reviewing the Winding Creek decision and parties’ comments on it, the CPUC ordered the utilities – yet again – to continue BioMAT contract execution. The CPUC issued Resolution E-4922 on March 22, ordering PG&E and other utilities to continue BioMAT procurement and contract execution.
BAC provided comments on several of the proposed changes to the LCFS that would adversely affect the instate biomethane industry, including a proposed reduction in the 2020 target, proposed change to biomethane that would require it to meet pipeline standards whether or not it will be injected into a utility pipeline, carbon intensities for temporary fuel pathways that are much higher than the actual carbon intensities for biomethane projects, and other changes.
Thee California Air Resources Board has proposed major changes to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, including changes to the 2020 and 2030 targets for carbon intensity, changes to the definition of “biomethane,” temporary carbon intensity levels for various types of fuels, and other changes that could have major impacts on biomethane development in California.
Despite repeated orders from the CPUC telling PG&E that it does not have the authority to suspend BioMAT procurement, PG&E has tried yet again by announcing that it will not sign BioMAT contracts until a federal court case involving the ReMAT has been resolved. That could be years. Meanwhile, the CPUC has ordered PG&E to continue BioMAT procurement, but PG&E will not sign any new BioMAT contracts until the CPUC orders it – yet again – to do so.
Fortunately, Phoenix Energy filed a motion to compel PG&E to execute BioMAT contracts. BAC filed this joint response with the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Placer County Air Pollution Control District, and Aries Clean Energy in support of Phoenix Energy’s motion.
On December 15, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected PG&E’s Motion to Suspend BioMAT Procurement. The Commission ordered PG&E to continue procurement and told PG&E – again – that it does not have the authority to unilaterally suspend BioMAT procurement without the Commission’s approval.
BAC filed an emergency motion to compel PG&E to continue BioMAT procurement. BAC’s motion included nearly a dozen letters from individual BAC members documenting the harm that PG&E’s announced suspension was causing BAC members.
In the early days of the BioMAT proceeding, PG&E asked the California Public Utilities Commission for the authority to suspend the BioMAT if PG&E suspected market manipulation or other problems with the program. The CPUC rejected PG&E’s request in no uncertain terms, saying that to give PG&E that authority would remove the Commission’s own responsibility for oversight of the program (and the utility). Despite the Commission’s clear reject of PG&E’s proposal, PG&E announced on December 1, 2017 that it would suspend BioMAT procurement effective December 31.
Read the PG&E MotiontoSuspendBioMAT
BAC has petitioned the CPUC to modify the BioMAT program to meet the requirement of SB 1122 to procure 250 MW of bioenergy from new, small-scale bioenergy facilities. BAC has asked the CPUC to remove or extend the BioMAT program end date, since SB 1122 contained no end date or offramp of any kind. BAC also asked the CPUC to make changes to the BioMAT decision that will help to reduce interconnection costs and timelines.
To read BAC’s Petition to the CPUC and its reply to comments on the Petition, click below.
California’s Legislature has passed a package of bills to extend the state’s Cap & Trade program and Low Carbon Fuel Standard to 2030. The bills passed with a 2/3 vote, which provides much greater legal certainty for the programs than they have had for the past decade. Although California extended AB 32 with legislation – SB 32 – that passed in 2016, SB 32 passed with only a majority vote. That was sufficient to extend regulatory programs to reduce climate pollution and to increase the required reduction to a 40 percent reduction by 2030. The Governor wanted a 2/3 vote for extension of the Cap & Trade program, however, since it involves an optional fee to purchase allowances and could be subject to legal challenges without a 2/3 vote.
The three bills included in the 2/3 vote are:
1) AB 398 (E. Garcia) – extends Cap & Trade and the LCFS programs to 2030; states that the intent of the Legislature is that cap & Trade revenues will focus on reduction of short-lived climate pollutants and other air pollutants, healthy forests and sustainable agriculture, low and zero carbon fuels, and R&D related to clean energy and climate issues.
2) AB 617 (C. Garcia) – increases monitoring and penalty provisions for air quality protection.
3) ACA 1 – requires that an initiative be placed on the 2018 ballot that asks voters to require a 2/3 vote in 2024 to authorize expenditure of Cap & Trade revenues.
California state agencies released the Draft Forest Carbon Plan in January 2017. The Draft Plan contains a lot of important background information, but is not specific enough to provide a real plan to reduce emissions and restore carbon sequestration to California’s forests.