California’s Clean Energy Future in the Era of the “New Abnormal”

This article has been shared by California City Management Foundation (CCMF) Corporate Benefactor Southern California Edison (SCE). For more information about CCMF sponsorship and benefits, please visit the CCMF website.

Do wildfires come to mind when you think about California’s clean energy future?

Ten of the 20 most destructive state wildfires have happened in the past four years, with 2018 being the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record.  The traditional notion of a “fire season,” which typically peaks in the summer and into the early fall, has become out of date. Wildfire “season” is now year-round, due to climate change, with its effects now compounded by increased greenhouse gas emissions from previous wildfires.

Our state is hotter and drier than ever before, making it even more vulnerable for future fires.

At the same time, California is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. In response, Southern California Edison (SCE) released a strategic vision, known as “The Clean Power and Electrification Pathway,” to help the state meet its goals.

SCE has been implementing this integrated approach to help the state achieve its 2030 climate goals by cleaning our power supply to 80 percent carbon-free and plugging more cars, trucks, buses, equipment, and buildings into that cleaner electricity.

California is also part of a larger initiative, known as the “West Coast Electric Highway,” to provide an extensive network of electric vehicle (EV) fast charging stations on major roadways in our state, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.[1]

SCE is working to put more EVs on California roads by 2030 through its Charge Ready infrastructure programs, which were created to address barriers slowing EV adoption. Just this month, the company launched “Charge Ready Transport,” an electric charger incentive program designed to help operators of heavy-duty trucks, buses, and forklifts electrify their fleets. The program would provide funding for infrastructure installation of around 870 SCE commercial customer sites over a five-year period. 

However, emissions coming from wildfires are undermining California’s fight against climate change. In 2017 alone, California wildfires released more greenhouse gases than both the residential and commercial sectors combined. To date, less than 10 percent of fires have been attributed to utility infrastructure.[2]

SCE is currently in the final phases of approval with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on its Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The plan, which was filed in February, would greatly reduce fire ignitions by utility infrastructure and further fortify the electric system against the increasing threat of extreme conditions driven by climate change. It also incorporates and builds on our $582-million Grid Safety and Resiliency Program (GSRP), which we filed with the CPUC last September and have already been implementing.

SCE is committed to fighting climate change and reducing the risk of wildfires. The company will continue to help the state meet its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals by 2030 and 2050, while at the same time, continue to protect its customers and communities from wildfires by taking extensive measures to mitigate these risks throughout its service territory.


[2] CAL FIRE – Historical Wildfire Activity Statistics, 2016