Faced with punishing heat waves and concerns about the reliability of renewable energy, the California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to lengthen the lifespan of three natural gas power plants.

The CEC vote last week would extend the deadline to shut down the plants from the end of this year to the close of 2026. The Southern California facilities — Ormond Beach Generating Station, AES Alamitos and AES Huntington Beach — would remain open to ensure ample power during emergencies and extreme weather conditions.

The plan awaits final approval from the State Water Resources Control Board, which could vote this month.

The CEC action, opposed by a range of environmental groups, is an attempt to balance near-term energy needs against the California government’s push toward greater...