CPUC Proposes Major BioMAT Changes

In early March, the CPUC released a revised Staff Proposal on the BioMAT program.  The Staff Proposal contains 15 separate and significant proposals to revise the BioMAT program.  Generally, the proposals are quite helpful and some – extending the program end date – are absolutely critical.  The most significant recommendations in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the BioMAT program end date from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2025;
  • Make the program statewide, allowing other purchasers of BioMAT power, instead of limiting it to the three investor-owned utilities;
  • Provide greater operational flexibility and reduce some of the excessive penalty provisions;
  • Extend the time allowed for projects to begin commercial operation;
  • Set deadlines for utilities to execute contracts; and
  • Require projects to provide lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analyses

See CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal (March2020)

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proposal

BAC’s comments on the CPUC Staff Proposal on Microgrids focus on the need to include bioenergy and biogas in microgrids.  Relying on solar and batteries alone limits the duration that microgrids can operate.   Bioenergy can extend the duration of microgrids and make them much more reliable by providing a fuel source for backup generators, flexible generation that can fill in around solar and batteries, energy storage, and other grid services.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal

CPUC Releases Staff Proposal on Microgrids

SB 1339 (Stern 2018) requires the California Public Utilities Commission to adopt a measures to accelerate the development of microgrids to ensure reliable electricity supplies during Public Safety Power Shutoffs and other grid disturbances.  Microgrids are especially important to keep the power on for emergency and essential services.  The CPUC Staff Proposal for short-term actions that can help microgrids before the 2020 fire season focuses very narrowly on microgrids powered by solar and batteries, which are not sufficient for long-duration outages and will not be effective under all circumstances.

See the ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal on Microgrids Track 1

BAC Comments on CalRecycle SB 1383 Regulations

BAC submitted comments on CalRecycle’s October 2019 draft of regulations to implement the  organic waste diversion requirements of SB 1383.  CalRecycle expanded the list of eligible alternatives to landfilling to include electricity, heating, and vehicle production from diverted organic waste.  The draft regulations also include electricity generation from biomass conversion, but the October draft deleted pipeline biogas, which could exclude the use of biogas for cooking, commercial and industrial purposes.

See BAC Comments on Proposed Changes to Organics Regs (Oct 18, 2019)

CalRecycle Released Nearly Final SB 1383 Regulations

SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) requires local jurisdictions to divert 50 percent of organics going to landfills by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025.   In October, CalRecycle released the nearly final regulations to implement these requirements.  The regulations focus on procurement of bioenergy or compost as the compliance mechanism and establish specific procurement amounts.  For bioenergy, the draft regulations allow conversion of diverted organic waste to electricity, heating, and vehicle fuel.  The draft regulations also allow biomass conversion to electricity.

See, SLCPFormalProposedRegulationTextOct2019

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proceeding

BAC submitted comments in late October on the CPUC’s Order Instituting Rulemaking.  BAC urged the Commission to address the need for baseload and flexible generation, to consider opportunities to convert local organic waste to local energy supplies, to include renewable gas for microgrid reliability, to consider the importance of Short-Lived Climate Pollutant reductions, and to consider other upstream benefits like wildfire mitigation and landfill reduction.  BAC’s comments are on BAC’s website.

The CPUC is expected to issue the Scoping Ruling in early 2020 and to complete the development of the microgrid framework by the end of 2020.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on OIR

CPUC Opens New Proceeding on Microgrids

In September, the CPUC launched a new proceeding to develop a policy framework for microgrids.  Microgrids are defined areas of the grid that can operate as part of the larger grid and can also be completely disconnected from (operate independently from) the larger electricity grid.  Microgrids include the energy producers, transmission and distribution lines, and energy end users that are within a defined electricity boundary.  The goal of establishing microgrids is to enable communities to have a fully independent grid that can operate even when there are disturbances to the regional grid.  The recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs have underscored the urgency of developing microgrids, especially for essential services like firefighters and police, hospitals, wastewater treatment, communications, and more.

The CPUC launched the new proceeding to develop the framework for commercializing microgrids.  It will consider the appropriate standards, eligible technologies, rates, tariffs and other issues for microgrid development in California.

See the CPUC’s Order Instituting this new Rulemaking:  OIR on Microgrids Rulemaking (R.19-09-009)

CEC Adopts Clean Transportation Funding Program

The California Energy Commission has adopted a new Clean Transportation Funding Plan (formerly known as the ARFVTP or AB 118 program) for 2019-2020.  The overall funding remains at $100 million annually, but the CEC cut biofuels funding from $20 million to $10 million.  The biofuels funding is now limited to low carbon, waste-based fuels and renewable hydrogen.

To read the full plan, see CEC’s 2019-20 Clean Transportation Funding Plan.

Legislative Analyst Critiques State’s Transportation Climate Programs

In December 2018, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released reports on the state’s climate change mitigation programs.  The reports noted a lack of coordination across programs, significant duplication, and a number of programs that are not cost-effective or effective at all.  The LAO singled out the state’s transportation programs in a stand-alone report that shows that most of the state’s programs are failing to show measurable progress, particularly the state’s investments in zero-emission vehicles.  The LAO report found that the only transportation sector that has made progress in reducing climate emissions is the heavy duty sector and that those are also the most cost-effective investments in climate and air pollution reductions.

Read the full report here: LAO climate-policies-transportation-122118