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CA Needs Natural Gas Upgrade, Return to Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEC Head Says

California needs a widespread rearticulation of its policies and programs on natural gas and needs to expand its return to comprehensive energy planning, according to Joseph Desmond, the chairman of the California Energy Commission (CEC), who spoke last Monday at the American Public Power Association (APPA) national meeting in Anaheim, CA.

Noting that the state imports about 85% of the gas it currently uses, Desmond said the bottom line is that California needs a lot more gas, and from that perspective, the state currently is looking at "all of its options."

Among the options are to increase the amount of natural gas produced domestically in some of the historically plentiful gas production fields in the central valley of the state, expanding the pipelines serving the state (both interstate and in-state transmission), and the importation of new supplies through liquefied natural gas (LNG).

"All of these are on the table, and we continue to focus on the environmental impacts and the need and safety issues," Desmond said. "But when I said California needs more gas, I think we'll find a way to express that."

He also said the state should return to a comprehensive planning process when it comes to energy policy and direction. "In California, after deregulation of the power markets, we evolved into something I call 'NRP', no resource planning, essentially saying just leave it to the market and hope it figures it out. Since the deregulation, we have moved back to IRP, or integrated resource planning, but I think we need to change the focus to DRP [dynamic resource planning], which recognizes the relationship that exists among not just energy matters, but also transportation fuels and the environment."

The DRP approach, Desmond said, is the framework in which the California governor's 10-point energy policy should be viewed. It is the reason, he said, that the state's energy future should be looked at as "very bright." The 10 essential parts of the policy are as follows, according to Desmond:

Desmond said if California and policymakers elsewhere are going to embrace change, they need to look at energy planning in this broader scope.

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