Georgia & California: Different States, Different Energy Strategies

 

Georgia and California:
Different States, Different Energy Strategies

The states of Georgia and California are headed in opposite directions on nuclear power. On December 21, 2017, the Georgia Public Service Commission (GA PSC) gave approval to Georgia Power Company to proceed with the construction of Plant Vogtle—the country’s lone nuclear power plant construction project. About one month later, on January 11, 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s request to close the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the state’s lone remaining nuclear power plant. CPUC Commissioner Liane M. Randolph was quoted as saying that the decision “moves California away from the era of nuclear power and toward the era of zero-carbon renewable energy.”

Each state has its own rationale for its energy policy decisions. California is approaching energy policy from a strong climate-centric perspective with its Governor Jerry being hailed as the “anti-Trump” of U.S. climate change action. California is convinced that high levels of renewable energy are possible, with legislation having already been proposed to pursue a 100% renewable energy policy—no fossil fuels and no nuclear power. It’s worth noting that of California’s total electricity consumption, about 68% is generated within state with the remaining 32% coming from out-of-state generation (Table 1). Georgia is taking a different approach with the construction of Plant Vogtle, a 2.2 GW nuclear power plant, along with a steady-paced, measured approach to the incorporation of solar power.

Table 1. California’s 2016 power generation and consumption profile

While California is applauded by some groups for taking up the climate-change-via-renewables mantle, it’s only fair to applaud Georgia for taking up the climate-change-via-nuclear mantle as well as that associated with the national security implications of U.S. nuclear power.

Whether we agree or disagree with each state’s energy policy decisions, what is being demonstrated is that Georgia and California have different energy strategies. To that end, a few graphs illustrating trends in power generation, total CO2 emissions, power sector CO2 emissions, and electricity rates since 1997 provide insight. Generation and CO2 emissions are also normalized and presented as intensities on a per capita and per GDP basis.

The quick summary is this. Georgia generally tracks the U.S. average in all categories while California is lower in most categories. However, since 1997, Georgia’s rate of decrease in emissions and emission intensities is generally better than both California and the U.S. average. However, for electricity rates, this is reversed as Georgia is somewhat lower than the U.S. and substantially lower than California.

These data are not intended to convey causality between energy resources and electricity rates. They are presented only to illustrate trends. However, the question can be asked: If the issue is CO2 emissions, Georgia is reducing its CO2 intensity at rates better than both the U.S. average and California in most instances. As for electricity rates, California simply doesn’t compete with Georgia.

While both Georgia and California are reducing their respective CO2 intensities, Georgia is doing so while keeping electricity rates more affordable than California’s

Summary of Points for the Period 1997-2016

TOTAL CO2 EMISSIONS

  • Georgia’s in-state power generation has increased 23.9%, compared with the U.S. average increase of 16.7%, whereas California’s has increased 14.0%, (Figure 4)
  • On a population basis, Georgia’s per capita power generation intensity has decreased by 9.82%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 0.84%, while California’s in-state power generation intensity has decreased 0.58% (Figure 5)
  • On a GDP basis, Georgia’s power generation intensity has decreased 16.4%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 20.8%, while California’s in-state power generation intensity has decreased 34.0% (Figure 6)

Figure 1. Total CO2 Emissions

Figure 2. Total CO2 emissions (per capita)

Figure 3. Total CO2 emissions (per GDP)


POWER GENERATION (IN-STATE GENERATION)

  • Georgia’s in-state power generation has increased 23.9%, compared with the U.S. average increase of 16.7%, whereas California’s has increased 14.0%, (Figure 4)
  • On a population basis, Georgia’s per capita power generation intensity has decreased by 9.82%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 0.84%, while California’s in-state power generation intensity has decreased 0.58% (Figure 5)
  • On a GDP basis, Georgia’s power generation intensity has decreased 16.4%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 20.8%, while California’s in-state power generation intensity has decreased 34.0% (Figure 6)

Figure 4. In-state power generation

Figure 5. In-state power generation (per capita)

Figure 6. In-state power generation (per GDP)


POWER SECTOR CO2 EMISSIONS (IN-STATE GENERATION)

  • Georgia’s CO2 emissions from in-state power generation have decreased 19.7%, compared with the U.S. average reduction of 14.6%, while California’s emissions from in-state power generation have decreased 6.2% (Figure 7)
  • On a population basis, Georgia’s CO2 emissions intensity from in-state power generation has decreased 40.2%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 28.0%, while California’s in-state emissions intensity decreased by 17.7% (Figure 8)
  • On a GDP basis, CO2 emissions intensities decreased in Georgia, California and the U.S. by 45.8%, 45.7% and 42.1% respectively (Figure 9)
  • On a MWhr basis, Georgia’s CO2 emissions intensity decreased 35.2%, compared with the U.S. average decrease of 26.9%, while California’s emissions intensity decreased by 17.7% (Figure 10)

Figure 7. Power sector CO2 emissions

Figure 8. Power sector CO2 emission intensities (per capita)

Figure 9. Power sector CO2 emission intensities (per GDP)

Figure 10. Power sector CO2 emission intensities (per MWhr)


ELECTRICITY RATES

  • Average electricity rates in Georgia, California and the U.S. have increased 50.5%, 59.6% and 49.9% respectively (Figure 11)
    • Georgia 2016 rate: 9.59 cents/kWhr
    • California 2016 rate: 15.23 cents/kWhr
    • S. 2016 rate: 10.27 cents/kWhr
  • Industrial electricity rates in Georgia, California and the U.S. have increased 41.4%, 71.5% and 49.2% respectively (Figure 12)
    • Georgia 2016 rate: 5.84 cents/kWhr
    • California 2016 rate: 11.92 cents/kWhr
    • S. 2016 rate: 6.76 cents/kWhr
  • Residential electricity rates in Georgia, California and the U.S. have increased 48.6%, 51.2% and 48.9% respectively (Figure 13)
    • Georgia 2016 rate: 11.50 cents/kWhr
    • California 2016 rate: 17.39 cents/kWhr
    • S. 2016 rate: 12.55 cents/kWhr

Figure 11. Average electricity rates

Figure 12. Industrial electricity rates

Figure 13. Residential electricity rates

 

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