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CPUC orders utilities to take steps to prepare for heat waves

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The California Public Utilities Commission has ordered the Golden State’s three major investor-owned utilities to implement a suite of programs to decrease energy demand and increase energy supply during critical hours of the day to ensure reliability in the case of extreme heat events over the next two summers.

The March 25 order requires the utilities to collectively procure at least 1,000 megawatts of demand- and supply-side resources for this summer. As the utilities already have contracted for 500 MW in supply-side resources in response to a February 11 order, the recent order will result in them adding 500 MW in demand-side resources by this summer and boosting their total demand-side resources by nearly 1,000 MW by next summer.

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The March 25 order was the most recent action taken by the CPUC in a proceeding it opened in November in response to the extreme heat event last August that caused the California Independent System Operator to initiate rotating power outages to prevent sustained, wide-spread service interruptions.

One of its previous actions was directing San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company to pilot an Emergency Load Reduction Program that will compensate customers for voluntarily reducing demand when called upon to do so by CAISO in the event of a grid emergency.

Other actions taken by the CPUC in the proceeding include ordering the three IOUs to procure a minimum of an additional 2.5 percent of resources; modify their Critical Peak Pricing programs to make the programs more effective and responsive; and modify their demand response programs to expand participation. The CPUC also reinstated the Flex Alert paid media program to educate consumers about the positive impacts of energy conservation, help them understand grid conditions, and inform them of the need to conserve energy when power demand is high. 

 

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