On Thursday, February 24th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered natural gas investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to procure 17.6 billion cubic feet of biomethane (from roughly 8 million tons of diverted organic waste) from landfills.  The CPUC also established a longer-term procurement target ordering IOUs to procure about 12% of their residential and small business use from biomethane. 

This decision is intended to help the state achieve its SB 1383 goals of diverting 75% of organic waste from landfills.  CalRecycle’s recent SB 1383 organic waste regulations will be inadequate to achieve those objectives because of a significant shortfall in the required infrastructure.  The CPUC is attempting to address that gap through this procurement order.   

RCRC and ESJPA became joint parties to the proceeding earlier this year and submitted extensive comments because previous proposals would have been virtually unimplementable and chilled interest in the program among local governments and the solid waste industry.  Several of RCRC/ESJPA’s suggestions on the fleet procurement requirements were adopted, such that it now requires only large trucks used at biomethane facilities to be near-zero emission (NZE) or zero emission (ZE) vehicles and merely prioritizes those facilities that accept material from third-party fleets that operate NZE and ZE trucks. 

It should be noted that this decision is intended to capture biomethane produced from organic waste diverted away from landfills.  Biogas captured from landfill gas control measures is not part of this order and can still be used for on-site and off-site energy and gas production, although certain provision of the decision may disincentivize the co-location of new biogas production facilities at existing landfills. 

Please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy, for more information.