NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 21, 2007

California's Sempra Energy and Massachusetts' InterGen hit on a strategy a few years ago to supply power to California without going through the expense and headache of building in-state: Build in Mexico, says the Dallas Morning News.

The plants are replicas of efficient natural gas plants in the United States, and are starting to make an impact in California:

  • California imported about 1 million megawatt-hours of electricity from Mexico last year, according to the California Independent System Operator, which operates most of the state's wholesale power grid.
  • That's a sliver of the 250 million megawatt-hours of total electricity the California operator handled last year.
  • Still, the state relies on imports from Mexico and surrounding states to keep the lights and air conditioning on, especially on hot summer days.

Environmental groups in California have worried that the plants are devoted to supplying U.S. needs but might not conform to U.S. emissions regulations.

But Sempra spokesman Art Larson said the company's investment in natural gas infrastructure in Mexico has allowed local power plants and industries to burn natural gas rather than oil, cutting total emissions.  Count that as an offset and Sempra meets even the California standards, he said.

Source: Elizabeth Souder, "U.S. utilities' power plant in Mexico saves on costs," Dallas Morning News, September 18, 2007.


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