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The Energy Gang podcast: the present and future of California’s electricity grid

Generating about 23% of its electricity from renewables in 2020, the state is a pioneer in the development of clean energy

1 minute read

California is one of the world’s largest economies in its own right, with a population of 40 million generating $3.4 trillion in GDP. It is also a pioneer in the development of clean energy, generating about 23% of its electricity from renewables in 2020, a long way ahead of the US average.

On today’s episode, the Energy Gang welcomes a special guest: Elliot Mainzer, the President and CEO of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). CAISO is the non-profit responsible for managing the flow of electricity that serves over 80% of California. Regular team member Melissa Lott, from the Center on Global Energy Policy, joins host Ed Crooks to examine the current state of the power grid in California and how it’s faring in the energy transition.

They talk about how the grid can keep up with changing technologies and manage the challenges created by a rising reliance on solar and wind power. And they discuss the significance of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, California’s single largest source of electricity, which is scheduled for closure in 2025. There have been suggestions that the life of the plant should be extended. What are the implications of this? And what needs to happen for the plant to be closed for good while maintaining reliability and preventing a rise in carbon dioxide emissions?

Finally, Elliot Mainzer looks ahead to the long term. California has a commitment to running its electricity grid on 100 zero-carbon energy by 2045. Is that realistic? And what needs to happen to achieve it?

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