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California Power Plants


Photo of Calpine Delta Energy Center Power Plant
Delta Energy Center, photo courtesy Calpine.

California produces roughly 70 percent of its electricity from power plants located within our state and from plants that are outside of the state but owned by California utilities. About 30 percent is imported electricity from the Pacific Northwest and the American Southwest.

The installed capacity of the 1,008 in-state power plants (greater than 0.1 megwatts - MW) totals 69,709 MW. These plants produced 205,695 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2009.

The California Energy Commission has the statutory responsibility for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger and the plants related facilities such as transmission lines, fuel supply lines, water pipelines, etc. The Energy Commission's 12-month, one-stop permitting process is a certified regulatory program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and includes many opportunities for public participation. The Energy Commission's license/certification subsumes all requirements of state, local, or regional agencies otherwise required before a new plant is constructed. The Energy Commission coordinates its review of the facility with the federal agencies that will be issuing permits to ensure that the Energy Commission certification incorporates conditions of certification that would be required by various federal agencies.

From 1978 to 1998 before California's electricity generation industry was restructured, the Energy Commission analyzed and approved 47 projects totaling 5,589 MW. More recently, in the early 1990s the Energy Commission certified 14 power plants. Of the 14 plants, 10 were approved and eight were constructed totaling 995 MW. No power plant applications were filed with the Energy Commission between August 1994 and May 1997 because there was so much uncertainty during the pending restructuring of the electricity industry.

Electricity deregulation began on March 31, 1998. During the ten years from 1998 through March 31, 2008, 66 electric generation projects, totaling 25,789 MW, were reviewed and licensed by the Energy Commission. Thirty-nine of these licensed facilities have been built and are on-line producing 13,180 MW.