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California Hopes Load Management and Innovation Can Save Their Grid

Todd Carney's picture
Writer Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Sep 14, 2022

California’s grid has had a rough summer. Although the state may receive some relief in the next month or so due to weather changes, the problem with their grid and blackouts are not going away. Next summer, California will likely see the same kind of weather. So California needs to continue looking at solutions. Fortunately, Utility Dive recently reported that new technological innovations are providing opportunities for California to exercise load management in order to make their grid more sustainable.

The California Public Utilities Commission Energy Division announced they are rolling out a real-time pricing tool that will display use and demand of energy over the internet. The tool will use this real time data to produce accurate demands, so operators know when use will surge, to allow them to plan accordingly. 

Moreover, this technology could allow for customers to essentially bargain for their energy prices. Customers could look at the energy prices by the minute and purchase energy at cheaper prices during non-peak hours. So if someone wanted to charge their electric vehicle, they could do so at a much cheaper rate by planning to charge it during non-peak hours.

Now this kind of bargaining can take up a lot of time for the individual user. So if someone does not have time to choose this kind of research, they can participate in a “subscriber option”, which would bill them at rates based on their use history. Even with this option, subscribers could still engage in bargain purchasing if they decide that they want to. 

Some people are not so enthusiastic about these innovations. Many stakeholders are worried this system will be too difficult for customers to engage in, and that it ultimately could limit their use. Although the piece did not discuss this issue, it seems that there could be a regressive impact. If a wealthier person ends up needing more energy than they planned, it is not a big deal for them, but someone living paycheck to paycheck could run out of money. Additionally, it is easier for a white collar worker to intermittently monitor energy prices at their desk job, but someone in the service industry might not have time, nor the technology at home to utilize the advantages of this system.

There is a lot more to learn about this innovation and others concerning California’s grid.While this innovation might provide solutions, it is a good idea for California and other relevant stakeholders to consider other ideas.



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