California Utility Wants To Charge Customers For Carbon Capture

California Utility Wants To Charge Customers For Carbon Capture - Carbon Herald

California utility company Sempra is lobbying to have ratepayers pay for the use of carbon capture technology.

California’s 2023 legislative session is nearing its end, and in its last few days, Sempra and its subsidiary SoCalGas are seeking to persuade lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow utility companies to charge their customers for investments made in carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions. 

Such last-minute proposals have historically been used to avoid public scrutiny for controversial measures. 

If passed, the bill will affect gas companies, as will another late-hour proposal, aimed at making it easier to seek approval for hydrogen production and transportation. 

As it were, the definition for green hydrogen is largely understood to be such hydrogen that is produced without emitting greenhouse gasses (GHG) into the atmosphere, i.e., with renewable energy sources. 

The newly proposed legislation, however, seeks to alter that definition and provide a loophole for blends with fossil gas. 

Relevant: Ratepayers To Pay $2M For Wyoming Coal-Power Mandate

Environmentalists, who are opposed to the use of carbon capture and advocate very harsh guidelines on hydrogen, are concerned that such late submission of these proposals will squeeze lengthy analysis and inspection into only a few weeks. 

“If we are going to invest in stuff, it needs to be stuff that gets us out of the fossil fuel world, not the stuff that perpetuates it,” said Ari Eisenstadt, the energy equity manager at the California Environmental Justice Alliance.

The draft bills do not yet have a lawmaker’s name on them and introduction into legislation is not guaranteed, as they are yet to be picked up by an assembly member or state senator, after which they will likely be revised. 

On the other hand, Sempra has strong lobbyists, several of which have previously been political staffers in Sacramento.

Read more: California Issues New Rules For Tackling Embodied Carbon In Building Construction

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