Reduce, Preserve, Remove: A Framework for Climate Action

Sometimes we get so focused on our silos that we don’t see connections across silos or the broader context. At EPIC we spend a lot of time working on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but during a recent project on carbon offset credits I learned more about the role of natural and working lands in California’s climate strategy. Add to that the recent activity related to carbon dioxide removal, particularly engineered solutions, and I began to see a more complete picture of climate action.

In hopes of making the complex work of climate policy a bit more digestible, consider a three-pronged framework for climate action: reduce emissions, preserve existing carbon stocks, and remove carbon from the atmosphere. This is nothing new. It basically summarizes California’s climate strategy, but I had to connect the dots to see it. This post summarizes each element of this framework.

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AB 1139: Reforms to California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program and Net Energy Metering (NEM)

On February 18, 2021, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez introduced AB 1139 to amend Public Utilities Code Section 739.1, repeal Sections 2827 and 2827.7, and repeal and add Section 2827. These amendments, repeals, and additions address reforms to the CARE program that set specific discount rate ranges as well as a NEM reform that seeks to: 1) eliminate any cost-shift between NEM and non-NEM customers; and 2) change the compensation received for energy exported to the grid under a new NEM tariff to the hourly wholesale market rate applicable at the time of the export and the location of the customer self-generator. The bill would also expand access to renewable energy for CARE customers in several ways. The following discusses both the changes to CARE and NEM based on the bills April 8, 2021 amendments. Additional amendments are expected if this bill moves through committee and each chamber. If signed into law, this bill would impact the in process CPUC R.20-08-020: Successor Tariff to Net Energy Metering proceeding.

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Spring Recess Legislation Update: April 2021

Sacramento, Ca

Written by: Lucia Rose (J.D. Candidate May 2022), Hayley Zech (J.D. Candidate May 2022), and Joe Kaatz (EPIC Staff Attorney)

The following describes identified trends and bills of interest on a range of energy, climate, and equity issues from this legislative session.  EPIC is in the process of developing a full list of bills to be published on its website by the end of this week.  This blog will be updated as soon as that link is live.

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How has Vehicle-Miles-Traveled flattened Air Pollution in the San Diego Region After Covid-19 Shutdowns?

California Route 125 at night, in La Mesa, California.

Co-authored with Bill Brick (San Diego Air Pollution Control District)

Over the past several weeks there has been a reduction in daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the San Diego region due to Shelter-in-Place orders issued by the Governor of California.  As discussed in a previous blog post, this decline in VMT has led to a reduction in greenhouse gases, the key gases in the changing climate. But there is also a relationship between VMT and daily and short-term air pollution.[1] We know that over two-thirds of smog-forming emissions in San Diego county are generated from mobile sources.[2] Air pollutants emitted from cars, diesel-powered trucks, buses, and other heavy‑duty equipment include oxides of nitrogen (NOx) as well as diesel particulate matter (PM).[3]  It is reasonable,  therefore, to expect that the reduction in VMT also would result in a reduction in such mobile source air pollutants.

The media has reported on how lock-downs have affected air pollution in many parts of the world and how clean and clear the air has become in metropolitan areas. People in the San Diego region have been asking the same question of how this reduction in VMT has affected our air quality. Due to this heightened interest in recent air monitoring data, the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (District) has provided a preliminary assessment of air quality measurements (even before the March 2020 data have been fully processed and validated). This post summarizes these preliminary findings.

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Posted in Air Pollution, APCD, COVID, GHGs, Greenhouse Gas, Nitrous Oxides, Ozone, Uncategorized, Vehicle Miles Traveled, VMT, Work from Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Shelter-in-Place, VMT and Flattening the GHG Curve in San Diego County

Airplane landing over I-5 freeway in San Diego. Taken 2 April 2016.

Many thanks to Yichao Gu, technical policy analyst, EPIC.

Vehicle-Miles-Traveled (VMT) is an important metric. VMT determines gas tax revenues, drives the need for and maintenance of roads, and contributes to air pollution (1) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In San Diego County, on-road transportation emissions are responsible for the largest fraction, more than 40%, of all greenhouse gas emissions and recently people have asked about the effect of the Shelter-in-Place orders on GHGs. GHG emissions are proportional to VMT as long as the percentage of miles driven by zero emission vehicles is low.

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Posted in COVID, Energy, GHGs, Greenhouse Gas, Telecommute, Telework, Transportation, Uncategorized, Vehicle Miles Traveled, VMT, Work from Home | 2 Comments

Paying for Carbon Performance


Historically in California, programs to encourage energy-efficient or renewable energy technologies provide upfront financial incentives. While the dollar amounts of these incentives are typically developed in part based on the lifecycle costs and performance of the technology in question, very few have provided incentives based on the ongoing performance of the project. And none of them have based payments on the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced – carbon performance. This post describes recent developments in pay-for-performance programs and a program recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that pays for carbon performance.

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Water and energy, rain and drought….

At this time (2018-2019), the region has experienced extremely high rainfall, with reservoirs filled to the brim. But just last year, we were concerned about the lack of rain, how much water we can save, and in that context, how much energy and greenhouse gases are produced when moving water to us here in the San Diego region.

The water-energy relationship first appeared in a 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) study which stated that the “water-related energy consumption is large — 19 percent (%) of all electricity used in California” (Table 1-1 p.8, CEC 2005). A more recent study (Spang, 2018, UC Davis) found that electricity savings from mandated statewide water conservation measures from July — September 2015 were almost identical to the first-year electricity savings in the period July 2015–June 2016 from energy efficiency investments by all of the state’s Investor-owned Utilities (IOUs) — a dramatic savings. Though this effect was unintended because the purpose of the mandate was to conserve water, it demonstrated the important role that water conservation can play in energy conservation in California.

However, the story about how much energy is used for water may be quite different at the city level compared with the state-level, not least because definitions of water-energy components vary from state to water district to city-level depending on whether it is about water planning or about climate action planning.  Previously we showed some general relationships on water-energy especially in the City of San Diego. This post continues and delves deeper into the relationships between water use and energy use at the state level contrasted with that at the city level (San Diego region), the “city” being a common unit used for climate action planning.

Energy Embedded in Water at the State versus City Level
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2019 Introduced Bill Update


With the deadline for the Legislature to introduce bills passing last Friday, we are currently tracking approximately 210 energy, climate, and other related bills for this session.  This session marks a higher volume of introduced bills than previous sessions with a major emphasis on wildfire issues faced by the state as well as proposed changes to electricity procurement and climate actions.  The following includes bills that represent the range of issues addressed this session.  A complete list can be found on our website.

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CPUC Unanimously Approves Commissioner Peterman’s Revised PCIA Alternative Decision

silver and gold coins

Photo by Pixabay on

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved Commissioner Peterman’s revised Alternative Proposed Decision (APD) to conclude the cost allocation methodology portion of the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment Methodology (PCIA) proceeding. Phase II of the proceeding will address many important issues that still need resolution.

The PCIA determines the cost indifference calculation for how much community choice aggregator (CCA) customers, bundled investor owned utility (IOU) customers, and direct access (DA) customers will pay for generation resources previously procured on their behalf.  These costs are allocated to customers who departed or may depart IOU service territories to take service from a CCA or direct access provider (electric service providers (ESPs)).

Per the CPUC’s 10/11/18 press release: “Bill impacts will vary depending on customer class, service provider, energy usage, the energy markets, and a utility’s resources.  Evaluating CCA residential customers departing in 2018, there is an estimated 1.68 percent increase in bills of residential CCA customers over 2018 bills as a result of today’s decision in PG&E’s territory; in Edison’s territory, that figure is 2.50 percent; and in SDG&E’s territory, that number is 5.24 percent.  Any rate increases for one group of customers will be offset by rate decreases for other sets of customers.”

This post updates a previous post that explained the original proposed alternative decision.  This post focuses on explaining the differences between the original PD, APD, and the revised APD adopted today.

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2018 Chaptered Bill Update

On September 30th, Governor Brown signed or vetoed all enrolled bills passed by the legislature.  This completed the 2018 legislative session fulfilling one of Governor Brown’s last major duties before leaving office.  The 2017-2018 two year legislative session saw the introduction of approximately 482 energy, natural resource, land use, and climate related bills with the 2018 legislative session resulting in approximately 94 of these bills becoming law.  The following is a brief list of important bills that were chaptered or vetoed during the 2018 session. A full list of chaptered and vetoed bills can be found here.

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