California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission, formally the Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created in 1974 and headquartered in Sacramento,[1] the Commission has responsibility for activities that include forecasting future energy needs, promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards, and supporting renewable energy technologies. The Commission is a division of the California Natural Resources Agency, which is under the direction of Cabinet Secretary John Laird. One of its prominent responsibilities is maintenance of the California Energy Code.


Charles Warren and Al Alquist, California politicians, co-authored the 1974 Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act that created the Commission.[2] The Act required that, prior to constructing or modifying an electric generating plant, the Commission was to certify the need for the plant and the suitability of the site of the plant.

In 1976, the California legislature amended the Warren-Alquist Act to require the Commission, prior to any new nuclear generating plants being built, to certify that there is sufficient capacity to store spent fuel rods, and to establish a moratorium on the certification of any new nuclear generating plants until the federal government has approved and established a means for the disposal of high level nuclear waste. A legal challenge to this amendment by two electric utilities resulted in the United States Supreme Court case Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, which upheld the amended Act.[3]

Dr. Arthur H Rosenfeld, now a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's Energy Advisory Board, was a Commissioner of the Energy Commission from 2000 to 2010.

On 17 January 2001 a state of emergency declared during the California electricity crisis allowed the state to buy electricity for the financially strapped utility companies. The emergency authority allowed Davis to order the California Energy Commission to streamline the application process for new power plants.

On 21 August 2006, the Governor signed Senate Bill SB 1, which directs the California Public Utilities Commission and the CEC to implement the California Solar Initiative program consistent with specific requirements and budget limits set forth in the legislation.

In 2013 these efforts were tested in a near worst-case scenario of high temperatures, and reduced hydroelectric and nuclear power. Thanks to a combination of clean energy and conservation the state suffered no shortages.[4]

Current activities

In 2007 the Commission set up relatively strict laws that forbid the signing of new energy supply contracts between utilities and coal-fired power plants. This was a major initiative to stem greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.[5]

In 2013 the Commission embarked on a program to expand Ethanol E85 retail distribution throughout the state of California. This project will install E85 dispensing equipment at 19 existing gasoline stations to take advantage of the existing fueling infrastructure. The $1.35 Million contract was awarded to Pearson Fuels of San Diego. The Commission expects the E85 vehicle fuel market in California eventually to be the largest in the United States, with approximately 55,000 new flex-fuel vehicles purchased in the state each year.[6]



See also


  1. "Contact Us." California Energy Commission. Retrieved on November 19, 2009.
  2. Full text of the Warren-Alquist Act
  3. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190 (1983).
  4. "California Keeps Its Energy Cool in Summer Scorcher."
  5. State acts to limit use of coal power. May 24, 2007. Retrieved on 27 May 2007.
  6. Pearson to Expand California E85. Jan 13, 2013. Retrieved on 16 Mar 2013.

External links

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