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Scope of CPUC's Climate Change Work

The CPUC's Energy Division has a Climate Section with the mission to develop and implement policies that achieve energy sector contributions to California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.  There are three primary objectives associated with achieving this mission:

  • Developing and implementing California, Western Climate Initiative, and/or federal market-based programs that provides the correct incentives, signals, and resources to achieve energy sector emissions reductions;
  • Identifying and implementing energy sector complementary policies that administratively direct the adoption of emission reduction measures in areas for which the market price signal may not be sufficient to overcome barriers to measure adoption; and
  • Ensuring that these market-based programs and complementary policies do not work at cross-purposes with one another.

Market-Based Program Development

The Climate Section’s work is focused on the development of sound policy that maintains the integrity of the emissions reduction program targets, while ensuring that the state’s electricity customers continue to receive reliable service at just and reasonable rates.  The cornerstone of this work is the joint California Energy Commission and CPUC recommendations to the California Air Resources Board (CARB)  on GHG reduction strategies for the energy sector (CPUC decision D.08-10-037).  In D. 08-10-037, the two energy agencies recommended the development of a multi-sector cap and trade program, the linking of the California program with other equally rigorous programs, the pursuit of various energy sector emissions reduction measures, and a variety of recommendations on related issues.

The CPUC is now engaged in the process of advocating for and supporting the adoption of the D.08-10-037 recommendations.  This work can be divided into three distinct areas: external consultation, internal coordination, and climate-related proceeding and program support.  Our work in each of these areas is summarized below.

External Consultation

At the state level, the Climate Section is providing subject matter expertise to CARB in support of the development of their Cap and Trade and 33% Renewable Electricity Standard regulations. The inter-agency CAT Energy and Water Subgroups meet periodically to coordinate the various agencies’ efforts, keep agency principals apprised of progress, and provide agency staff and management with a forum to raise the high-priority issues of which they are aware.  Climate Section staff currently coordinates the conference calls, staff-to-staff meetings, and principals meetings for the CAT Energy Subgroup.

At the regional level, the WCI committees hold weekly teleconferences and periodic committee, stakeholder, and partners meetings. Climate Section staff is active on a number of WCI committees. Our staff also participates in a weekly “California-leads” call intended to ensure that there is California-agency consensus on specific design elements of the WCI program.

Finally, at the federal level, we track and weigh in on climate-related legislation/proposed legislation. 

Internal Coordination

The Climate Section plays a central role in coordinating CPUC Energy Division’s climate activities to ensure that the appropriate resources are marshaled to participate in various initiatives and to ensure overall consistency.

Climate-Related CPUC Proceeding/Program Support

The Climate Section currently oversees (or directs investor-owned utilites who oversee) several climate-related programs, including the Emission Performance Standard compliance filings, PG&E’s ClimateSmart program, and the Climate Registry Cool Planet partnerships. 

In addition, the Climate Section coordinates staff participation in the ongoing Alternative-fueled vehicle rulemaking that is considering alternative-fueled vehicle tariffs, infrastructure, and policies in support of California’s Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction goals.  The rulemaking is in compliance with the legislative mandate set forth in SB 626 that requires the CPUC to adopt policies to overcome barriers to the widespread use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles by July 2011. 

The Climate Section also oversees various CPUC proceedings that promote the increased development of combined heat and power/cogeneration resources in the state. 

Complementary Policies

The Climate Section also supports the CPUC’s ongoing efforts to implement the energy sector “Complementary Policies” identified in D.08-10-037 and in CARB’s AB32 Scoping Plan, including energy efficiency, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the California Solar Initiative, combined heat and power, and vehicle electrification. 

Climate-related issues that have arisen or are expected to arise in the complementary policies arena include:

  • GHG Reduction Goal Explanations/Updates
  • Set-Asides and Incentives
  • Allowance Revenue Recycling
  • Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification (especially in relation to “double counting” concerns)

Last Modified: 6/9/2010

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