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Coal-Fired Power Off Limits to California Utilities

California’s Public Utilities Commission is barring investor-owned utilities from entering long-term contracts to obtain electricity from sources that emit more carbon dioxide than a modern natural gas plant, AP reports. The so-called “greenhouse gas emissions performance standard” takes effect Feb. 1.

While there are almost no coal-fired plants in California, about 20 percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal plants in Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and other Western states.

Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco, Southern California Edison in Rosemead and San Diego Gas and Electric, owned by Sempra Energy in San Diego are the state’s three investor-owned utilities. Together, they supply power to more than 70 percent of Californians. Coal only makes up one percent of electricity at PG&E, three percent at SDGE and seven percent at SCE.

The California Energy Commission is drawing up a similar emissions standard for municipal utilities, which import a greater share of their electricity from out-of-state coal plants.

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