Should Californians pay more for renewable electricity in hopes that the state will gradually move away from relying on fossil fuel-based power plants? If so, how much more? That’s a tough issue to consider, and it formed the basis of a decision by the state regulators on Thursday to approve two contracts for solar farms that they say should help reduce the costs of producing solar energy in the future.
The California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 to approve two power purchase agreements between developer BrightSource Energy and Southern California Edison. The contracts will see power flowing from the yet-to-be-built Rio Mesa 1 and Sonoran West. At the same time, the commission rejected Edison’s request to approve three other contracts with BrightSource.
Edison actually sought approval for all five contracts, totaling 1,000 MW, back in 2009, when energy storage played no part. Then it re-negotiated the contracts with BrightSource in 2011 after BrightSource had modified those power plant proposals to reduce their environmental impact. This time around, energy storage made its way into three of the contracts.