California Electricity Sector Overview


Fueled by population growth, the demand for electricity in California is increasing. At the same time, the mandate to decrease greenhouse gas emissions is looming.

In 2007, California produced 69.5% of the electricity it uses; the rest is imported from the Pacific Northwest (8.2%) and the U.S. desert southwest (22.3%). Natural gas is the main source for electricity at 45.2% of the total system power. In 2005, Californians spent $31 billion for their electricity.

The state’s most pressing challenge is to ensure adequate electricity supplies. So much so that California energy policy makers have established an electricity “loading order” – the preferential methods that electricity-producing resources will be added .

The loading order lists energy efficiency and demand response first; renewable resources second, and clean and efficient natural gas-fired power plants third.

California Electricity Sector Overview:

– Electric Utility Companies

California is served by about 75 load-serving entities (LSEs). These are broken down as:

  • Investor-Owned Utilities – 6
  • Publicly Owned Utilites – 48
  • Rural Electricity Cooperatives – 4
  • Native American Utilities – 3
  • Other Electricity Service Providers – 14

A list of the utilities and LSEs in California is online at:

The five largest utilities and total electricity consumption (in 2007) are:

  1. Southern California Edison Company (SCE) – 88,208 million kliowatt-hours
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) – 85,057 million kliowatt-hours
  3. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) – 24,317 million kilowatt-hours
  4. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) – 20,300 million kliowatt-hours
  5. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) – 10,917 million kliowatt-hours

California’s investor-owned electric utilities send power through roughly 200,000 miles of overhead transmission and distribution lines and an additional 70,000 miles of underground lines. For a map of the major transmission lines, please go to:

Power Plants

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. The other 30 percent is imported electricity from the Pacific Northwest and the American Southwest.

The installed capacity of the 980 in-state power plants (greater than 0.1 megwatts – MW) totals 67,545.51 MW. These plants produced 209,856 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2007.

For additional information on power plants, please see the Power Plants section on the Energy Almanac.

For additional information on electricity, please see the main Electricity Section on the Energy Almanac.

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