Ron Nichols, president of Southern California Edison

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Power Moves

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Alumni Profiles, Environment

As president of Southern California Edison, the state’s second largest power company, Ron Nichols ’75 is helping California transform its energy landscape. He advocates for a renewable energy strategy that sharply reduces dependence on fossil fuels. “Quite frankly, while we need power around the clock, we don’t need power plants that run 24/7 in California,” Nichols said. Power generation today is characterized by a smarter, integrated, distributed energy network with a focus on renewables. “Just five years ago, a mere 1 percent of the energy delivered to Southern California Edison customers came from solar sources,” explained Nichols. “Today that figure is 15 percent.” And by 2030, it will grow to as much as 40 percent, including “distributed” solar on rooftops and in communities. “That’s an incredible change and it’s happened because of the phenomenal reductions in price,” Nichols said. “Solar is the big dog in power supply and is in any integrated resource plan that we look at.” Nichols said UC Davis gave him the tools and the opportunity to launch his career in the energy industry. After graduating, he took a position at the newly created California Energy Commission, where he helped develop regulations for power plant siting, which were nonexistent at the time. “I never would have had this opportunity were it not for UC Davis,” Nichols said.

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Switched On: For more than 40 years alumnus Ron Nichols has helped shape California’s energy policy