Data Source: California Energy Commission. Analysis by Beacon Economics
  • Southwest imports of RPS-eligible renewables as percentage of total imports in Southwest reached 37.5 percent, the highest share since 2001 due to an increase of small hydro, while Northwest imports of RPS-eligible renewables as percentage of total imports in Northwest decreased from 35.5 percent to 30.0 percent in 2022. Southwest imports have a higher concentration of renewables (37.5%) than Northwest imports (30.0%). However, natural gas’s contribution to the Southwest import power mix has increased 1.4 percent from 2021, and in 2022 accounted for 16.1 percent of the total energy mix.
  • Despite having a higher share of renewables compared to Northwest imports, imports from the Southwest are more carbon intensive—higher GHG emissions per megawatt-hour imported—than in-state generation and Northwest imports. This is due to the Southwest having a larger portion of generation from coal (11.5 percent in 2022 compared to 0.5 percent from Northwest imports and 0.1 percent from in-state generation), even as coal’s contribution to the Southwest import power mix has dropped 30 percent since 2010. If California is to achieve its clean energy goals, it must account for and make significant efforts to eliminate electricity imports generated from fossil fuel sources. Moreover, a large portion of California’s imports come from “unspecified sources,” which are not traceable to specific generating facilities.129 Given the almost complete absence of fossil fuel sources in Northwest imports (coal, oil, and natural gas made up less than one percent of Northwest imports), it is plausible that most of the GHG emissions from Northwest imports are from unspecified sources.

129 According to California Energy Commission, unspecified sources of power are typically a mix of resource types, and may include renewables. This category can also include spot market purchases, wholesale energy purchases, and purchases from pools of electricity where the original source of fuel can no longer be determined. Retrieved from: