California Utilities Banned from Buying 'Dirty' Energy

California Utilities Banned from Buying 'Dirty' Energy

New rules adopted by the state's Public Utilities Commission went into effect yesterday, setting limits on the amount of emissions generated by energy-producing plants.

The rules, encapsulated in the Interim Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard, set a baseline emission level for power plants at the level of a natural gas plant, or 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour the plant produces.

In effect, the new rules prohibit California's utilities from buying energy from older, coal-fired power plants, which currently make up about 20% of the state's power supply, according to an Associated Press report.

"The Emissions Performance Standard is a vital step towards achieving the emissions reductions goals of AB 32 and protecting our ratepayers against the risk of high carbon prices in the not-too-distant future," said PUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. "At the same time, this decision leaves the door open to new, advanced technologies and carbon sequestration projects that will allow the energy industry to develop clean and sustainable sources of power."

Environmentalists told the AP that the new standard, which govern three major utilities in California -- Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco, Southern California Edison in Rosemead, and San Diego Gas and Electric in San Diego -- that the new rules are a positive step, not just for California but for the entire country.

"It will help transition California's energy market to one that produces less greenhouse gas emissions," Sierra Club's Jim Metropulos told the AP. "Other states may look at it and decide that they also want to transition from dirty coal power to cleaner, green power."