Develop Analytical Tools and Technologies to Plan for and Minimize the Impacts of Climate Change on the Electricity System

Advancing long-term energy scenarios and greenhouse gas abatement options in California.

Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3)


Anaheim, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The researchers improved their models and data sets, for example, improving the linkage between the E3 model of the electricity system and their PATHWAY model. E3 briefed Chair Weisenmiller and the project's Policy Advisory Committee in November 2017. The final project report is published on the Energy Commission website. Key findings of the long-term energy scenarios research include: 1) renewable power generation needs to exceed the current RPS requirement of 50% set for 2030 if the 2030 emissions reductions goal is to be met; 2) to meet California's 2050 goal of 80% emissions reductions relative to 1990 levels, the electricity system must be comprised of 85-95% zero-carbon electricity by 2050; 3) consumer behavior is the lynchpin to meeting 2030 targets; and 4) additional RD&D is needed to chart a path for hard-to-electrify end-uses (e.g., heavy-duty trucks, industry).

The Issue

If California is to achieve its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, the electricity system must play a pivotal role. Electricity generation must have significantly reduced carbon intensity and much of transportation and other end uses that are currently powered by direct fossil fuel combustion must be electrified. Prior research has identified "proof of concept" low carbon scenarios, but many aspects of the energy transition remain poorly understood.

Project Innovation

This project advances the understanding of key parameters of long-term energy scenarios and greenhouse gas abatement options in the California energy system. Researchers further developed detailed scenarios and modeling capabilities of the California electricity sector, as well as interactions between the electricity sector and other sectors, and explored the implications of particular policy choices on the electricity system in the medium (2020-2030) and long term (2050). This project provides critical insight into some of the key challenges facing the low carbon transition in the electricity system, the options for addressing these challenges, and the dynamic interactions among these options, which are likely to grow more important over time.

Project Benefits

This project developed options for improving electricity planning methodologies, such that they better incorporate knowledge of how the electricity system will need to evolve over the next 15 to 30 years. The analysis includes a better understanding of how current policy choices will impact long-term climate outcomes, providing critical policy-relevant information to state energy agencies that will be implementing the Governor's energy and climate goals over the next 15 years. The research team estimated the potential costs of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 and compared these costs with the public health benefits of improved air quality reported by others. They found that the potential public health benefits are in the same order of magnitude than the potential GHG reduction costs.

Lower Costs


This research provides information to policy makers about key choices that would lower the cost of meeting the state's environmental goals in the electricity sector. This project per se will not lower costs but it is providing i

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

This project investigates the environmental and land use implications of different renewable development scenarios under a 50 percent renewable future in 2030 while reducing environmental impacts.

Greater Reliability


This project provides information to policy makers about the key choices and decisions needed to maintain electric reliability of the future system with increased renewable and distributed generation. The scenarios explored by th

Key Project Members

Project Member

Amber Mahone

Director of Greenhouse Gas and Policy Analysis



ECCO International


Black & Veatch Corporation


Contact the Team