Pasadenans at Thursday meeting ask PWP officials to be mindful of ‘social cost of carbon,’ speed up implementation use of renewable energy resources
Published : Friday, August 24, 2018 | 5:04 AM
[Updated] Nearly 100 Pasadenans were in attendance at the Hastings Ranch Library Thursday evening as Pasadena Water and Power held the second in a series of meetings to outline its Power Integrated Resource Plan which will manage the City’s power use over the next 20 years.
The 2018 plan is bound by SB 350, a new law which establishes a California 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels. The law sets 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewable electricity, as well as other actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a state website, SB 350 will help the state’s ability to meet its long-term climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
More than a dozen Pasadena residents offered questions and comments following the presentation, many having to do with the use of natural gas, and stressed that the City needs to be using renewable energy sooner than planned.
“We need 100% renewable energy as soon as possible, and we need to be educating people,” said Nina DeGrassia.
Ron Hoff, a member of Pasadena 100, a group which advocates that Pasadena Water and Power should provide 100 % carbon-free electricity by 2035, said that the “IRP,” as the Integrated Resource Plan is called, should include “no natural gas usage or methane options, and that PWP needs to include the “social cost of carbon” in its plans.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the social cost of carbon is “a measure of the economic harm from those impacts, expressed as the dollar value of the total damages from emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
According to the presentation by the PWP’s Mandip Samra, the IRP will serve as “a blueprint for PWP to deliver reliable, environmentally responsible electricity service at competitive rates over a 20-year planning period.” The 2018 IRP is the third such plan since 2009.
Samra said each IRP is updated every three to five years and “energy resources not considered or picked up today might be picked up in future IRPs.”
The latest plan is due to City Council for its approval by January 1, 2019.
According to the PWP presentation, the IRP would take into account SB 350 compliance, as well as emission reduction goals and alternatives. It would also consider the impact of transportation electrification, along with any impacts on disadvantaged communities, as PWP works to meet its reliability requirements.
Samra also noted that a 1986 contract with the Intermountain Power Plant in Delta, Utah would not be renewed in the current IRP.
There are various constraints on the City’s ability to deliver consistent energy to residents and customers, Samra told the group. Those constraints include cost-effective energy storage, a strong demand response, and energy efficiency.
“Balancing these important issues with reliability, cost and environmental stewardship” is key, said Samra.
PWP also worked out a series of five energy “scenarios” with its Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group (“STAG”). The scenarios included a Base or “typical use” case; a “social cost of carbon” Case, a High Load Case, an SB 100 Compliance Case, and a “Diversification of Resources” Case. The SB 100 scenario would require the City to have full renewable energy compliance in just over ten years
The PWP “needs to find a balance between reliability, cost, stability, and the environment,” the report noted.
According to a community survey the PWP has been conducting, most respondents said that “reliability and affordable rates” were the two most important issues in developing the IRP.
Lon Peters, a consultant working with the PWP, also said that the City is currently working with Siemens, a multi-national manufacturing conglomerate based in Germany, to help analyze its own energy efficiency, which would help PWP “highlight the potential for any program changes in the IRP.”
Programs/Political Chair of the Pasadena Sierra Club David Czamanske asked Samra about the use of wind power, and why that was not included in the IRP. Czamanske also asked whether or not the City still held any interest or transmission rights from the power plant in Utah.
Samra responded that there are legal limitations on the importation of wind power, and with the end of the Delta power plant contract, the City no longer had any transmission rights on those power lines.
Resident Anthony Mancuso questioned the use of natural gas in the energy plans, claiming that the use of natural gas “was worse than using coal.” Resident Mark Day agreed, saying that leakage into the atmosphere from natural gas usage in powering energy plants was a problem, and that “gas is a bad solution.”
George Minter, a Pasadena resident who said he is a Southern California Gas Company employee, explained that carbon methane is a “net-zero component,” meaning that bio-methane released into the atmosphere is bad, but that technology can capture bio-methane in the air and convert it to energy for utility companies, thus having no damage to the environment.
Resident Jonathan Wong also questioned Samra as to why more local energy sources were not being sought, as opposed to plants in Nevada and Utah, for example. Samra explained that in the 2018 plan, all renewable sources of energy were California-based.