CPUC staff has proposed some major changes to the BioMT program, including a five-year extension of the program from 2021 to 2026, changes to the pricing mechanism, fuel requirements in the forest BioMAT category, contract changes due to interconnection delays, and more. Comments on the Staff Proposal are due to the CPUC on November 29.
In late August, the California Legislature passed SB 100 (de Leon), which increases California’s renewable electricity (RPS) requirement from 50 to 60 percent by 2030. SB 100 also requires the California Public Utilities Commission to plan for 100 percent of the state’s electricity to come from RPS eligible or zero carbon power by 2045. These two provisions will help to keep renewable power growing in California and will force the CPUC to plan for a more diverse portfolio of resources to meet the 100 percent target in 2045.
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.
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.
Fifteen California counties and the Rural County Representatives of California urge the CPUC to adopt policies to increase baseload and flexible generation power, including biomass and biogas, as part of California’s 50 percent renewable power requirement. The counties lay out the many benefits of biomass and biogas for ratepayers and the public, including renewable power to complement wind and solar, provide grid stability, reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, protect water and hydropower supplies, protect utility infrastructure from wildfire, and provide economic development in rural communities.
See the Counties’ letter to CPUC
In August, the CPUC sought comments on implementation of SB 840, which waives some interconnection requirements for forest BioMAT projects. BAC’s Comments and Reply Comments are below.