SCE takes initiative to establishing CA Clean Air Quality
Schwarzenegger Administration, Pacific Gas And Electric Company, Southern California Edison Partner With Agriculture Customers And Environmental Officials To Clean California Air
Program to Encourage Retirement of Diesel-Powered Pumps, Switch to Electricity Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) today filed applications with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish an incentive program to encourage agricultural customers to convert diesel internal-combustion powered irrigation pumps, which are significant sources of air pollution, to electric use. The program is being hailed by air quality regulators and environmental officials as a significant step toward improving air quality in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) today filed applications with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish an incentive program to encourage agricultural customers to convert diesel internal-combustion powered irrigation pumps, which are significant sources of air pollution, to electric use. The program is being hailed by air quality regulators and environmental officials as a significant step toward improving air quality in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley air basins are subjected to heavy amounts of air pollutants, ranking with Los Angeles and Houston as some of the most polluted regions in the nation. This collaborative partnership with the agricultural community can facilitate the retirement of stationary diesel engines which have been identified as a significant source of the air pollution in the Central Valleys.
"As a central valley resident, I speak from first hand experience when I tell you that we all welcome improved air quality," said Secretary of Resources Agency Mike Chrisman. "I would encourage those farmers who will benefit from this program to help us clean the air by retiring their diesel engine irrigation pumps. We'll all breathe a little bit easier."
According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), there are more than 5,700 diesel-powered pumps used for irrigation in the Central Valley. These engines are significant contributors to the area's poor air quality. During the 2003, CARB estimates that diesel powered irrigation pumps accounted for nearly 23 percent of the total NOx, about 31 percent of the reactive organic gases (ROG) and 17 percent of the particulate matter (PM) emitted from stationary fuel combustion sources in the Central Valley.
"Our successful collaborative effort will result in significantly cleaner air in California's Central Valleys, a common objective shared by all parties involved," stated Jan Berman, Director of Rates for PG&E.
The innovative incentive program establishes a new electric rate schedule for program participants and provides rate certainty for ten years. The proposed incentive rate begins approximately 20 percent below the otherwise applicable rate schedule. The rate will increase by 1.5 percent per year for the entire 10-year term of the program. Existing ratepayers benefit because the additional customers provide a larger customer base to spread each utility's fixed costs.
"SCE is pleased to propose this new rate schedule because it would improve air quality while providing overall economic benefits to our customers," said Catherine Hackney, Director of Public Affairs for Southern California Edison.
Other key features of the program include: the permanent retirement of air pollution emissions credits associated with existing permitted diesel engines; enhanced line extension allowances to help defray some of the up-front conversion costs; and pump efficiency tests to ensure the new electric pump is operating efficiently.
"This is a classic example of the business community working with government regulators to achieve a common-sense solution to critical air quality issues," said Michael Boccadoro, Executive Director of the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association. "Rather than spending millions of dollars retrofitting these diesel engines to reduce emissions, through this program we are eliminating virtually all emissions while dramatically enhancing the environment and the air valley residents breath. This is a win-win-win situation."
The next steps in the regulatory review process include the CPUC assigning a Commissioner and an administrative law judge to oversee the application. The Commission could issue a decision as early as March 2005.