Edison International Corrects Misinformation About Clean Energy Commitment
The Los Angeles Times recently published an opinion piece that was short on facts and misleading. That same wrong dialogue has been shared across social media and elsewhere, and we must clear the record by providing the facts.
Several assertions about our industry's position on proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants are off, and the people pushing that narrative are leaving out a lot of information. For example:
- The electric power sector has done more to reduce carbon emissions in the United States than any other industry, even without federal regulatory standards.
- The Edison Electric Institute includes 50 electric companies that have announced voluntary, long-term carbon reduction goals, the vast majority including net zero or the equivalent. Pedro J. Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International, proudly serves as EEI chair for the 2023-2024 cycle.
- EEI has been talking with the EPA about its proposals for several years, and we share a long-term vision of a clean energy future reliant on emissions-free energy and greater electrification.
This progress isn’t always widely understood or acknowledged, which is why it is important to tell the story correctly.
Moreover, Edison International and EEI have gone so far as to defend the EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions. That’s the opposite of the LA Times assertion that EEI wants “to kneecap climate action.”
Below is a breakdown of what’s fiction versus fact. The key takeaway is that while some people are writing about climate change, the electric industry continues to do something about it.
FICTION: Utilities have delayed climate action for the last 50 years, and if you are a Southern California Edison customer, you’re funding those efforts.
FACT: This comment completely ignores the industry’s carbon emissions reductions. While electricity use has grown 73% since 1984, carbon emissions are just as low as they were then. Over the past 18 years, the industry has reduced carbon emissions by 36%. While Southern California Edison does earn an authorized return on its investment in the electrical system and Edison International pays dues to EEI, SCE’s focus on climate equity is evident, as is the industry’s important progress on reducing emissions. This commitment is especially underscored when you consider SCE’s customers’ bills help fund debt relief and bill discounts for qualifying customers, payment arrangements so customers can pay off their past-due balances over time, and other tools and programs that help customers save energy and manage their bills.
FICTION: SCE is leading the electric power industry backward to dirty fossil fuels.
FACT: SCE and Edison International have continuously supported the cross-sector collaboration needed to achieve California’s climate goals. Through public policy engagement and strategic investments, we are advocating for and working to accelerate the economywide approach required to achieve California’s climate goals.
FICTION: Electric utilities could profit from the clean energy revolution — if they would only get out of their own way.
FACT: The electric power industry is already leading the clean energy transition. Today, more than 40% of the electricity that powers homes and businesses nationwide comes from clean, carbon-free resources. In the past three years, wind and solar have made up more than 78% of new electric generation. Renewable generation surpassed coal and nuclear in the U.S. electric power sector for the first time in 2022.
FICTION: Across the country, nearly every coal plant could be shut down tomorrow, replaced with wind and solar, and it would save customers money.
FACT: SCE analyzed several approaches to meeting California’s climate goals, which are more aggressive than the rest of the country. The most affordable pathway includes decarbonizing retail electricity sales, electrifying most transportation and buildings, using low-carbon fuels for hard-to-electrify applications, and using capture and storage technologies for the remaining carbon. Importantly, a small amount of natural gas generation will still be needed in 2045 for reliability and affordability.
Pizarro said, “While reducing GHG emissions is important, electric companies simply don’t have the luxury to ignore reliability and affordability for their customers. The electric power industry is committed to a net-zero future. Reducing GHG emissions is critical to the health of our planet, and we will continue to provide electricity as clean as we can, as fast as we can.”
FICTION: Edison International and EEI oppose the entire EPA proposal.
FACT: While Edison International and EEI agree with the intent of the EPA proposal, we have specific concerns about the EPA’s recommendations on clean hydrogen and carbon capture storage for gas-fired generators. That is why we are participating in the democratic rulemaking process that is designed to solicit feedback from stakeholders. For example, the proposed rule declares clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, or CCS, the “best systems of emissions reduction.” Clean hydrogen and CCS are not yet mature enough to establish them as the standard.
“Our industry is pushing to bring these technologies to scale, but we are not there yet, and we cannot guarantee that they will be ready by the timelines proposed in the EPA’s rule,” Pizarro said. “We share the EPA’s long-term clean energy vision and have engaged constructively on this proposal for years. Our concerns with this specific proposal are technical, and EEI has provided solutions. Developing reliable and affordable clean energy is our highest priority, and we’re committed to working with EPA to create a clean energy economy in the United States.”
“Edison and our peer EEI members want constructive regulation that reflects reality and will survive legal challenges, providing durable market signals,” Pizarro said. “We want what is realistic to move the clean energy future forward as fast as possible.”
EEI’s member companies are leading a profound, long-term transformation in how electricity is generated, transmitted and used. This clean energy transition has already resulted in significant GHG emissions reductions.
Pizarro continued, “Safely delivering reliable and affordable clean energy is our highest priority, and we’re committed to working constructively with the EPA and all regulatory agencies, not fighting them.”
Edison International and Southern California Edison know full well the environmental and economic impacts of climate change. In fact, we’ve proven through our actions over the years that we take seriously our role as a leader in a clean energy future.