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California grid sets new record for renewable energy.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 722 items added with 352,381 views
  • Apr 29, 2022
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On April 3, the California grid set a new record for reliance on renewable energy, running on 97.6% renewables at the peak during the later afternoon. The state and others could break records like this one more regularly as renewables make up more and more of the portfolio, and especially in the spring, when temperatures are comfortable enough to not run air conditioning or heat, resulting in greater demand and greater need for dirty peaker plants. 

However, an expected California Public Utilities Commission could impact how often California is able to reach these numbers. The CPUC is going to decide what to do with its net metering program, which has helped the proliferation of solar throughout the state. They could, and are expected to, pull back incentives that pay solar customers retail prices for the extra energy they produce. This would make at-home solar less accessible and slow its growth. 

Home solar amounts to grains of sand compared to the generation offered by utility scale solar. However, a renewable future will rely on vastly expanded generating capacity, which means every addition to home solar that can take load off the grid and send extra energy back into it, will be needed. The CPUC's new head has delayed the decision, but when it comes back up for a vote, the eyes of the industry will be on California. 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 29, 2022

Home solar amounts to grains of sand compared to the generation offered by utility scale solar. However, a renewable future will rely on vastly expanded generating capacity, which means every addition to home solar that can take load off the grid and send extra energy back into it, will be needed.

On a per project basis, this is indeed a drop in the bucket. But utilities see value in EE programs and this can be thought of like an EE program but on steroids, as they're accomplishing the same thing: reducing the load demanded from each participating house. There's definitely great reason for utilities to encourage that

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on May 9, 2022

Matt, what can we tell you?  People have different views, even about sand.

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Apr 29, 2022

Matt, you are such a nice guy that I hate to disagree with you at all. But see https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=table_1_... and look at Connecticut for February 2022. If I am reading this remotely correctly, total estimated solar photovoltaic generation from all sources was 88,000 megawatthours (MWH). Of this, 25,000 MWH was from Generation at Utility-Scale Facilities and 63,000 MWH was Estimated Small Scale Generation, from all sectors. There are rounding errors for the Mid-Atlantic states, but a similar pattern, though not as stark, holds for New Jersey and New York. In the Midwest, South and West, this statement holds up, but there are exceptions. Missouri, with 31,000 MWH from Estimated Small-Scale Generation and 9,000 MWH from Utility-Scale Facilities, is one, and Louisiana, with 18,000 MWH vs. 9,000 MWH, is another. Iowa and Kansas are partial exceptions, about half and half. So grains of sand can add up.

Howdy Goudey's picture
Howdy Goudey on May 6, 2022

The casual dismissal of home solar power as a "grain of sand" is very loaded and factually inaccurate. CA has about 11 GW of behind the meter customer solar. Some of that is larger commercial installations, but there is roughly twice as much residential behind the meter installed capacity compared to commercial (based on data in PG&E territory). Utility scale solar in CA is at about 15GW (just another grain of sand?). Rooftop solar is not insignificant compared to utility scale solar, as is claimed without evidence in this article. The CAISO peak record is just over 50GW (2006). "Rooftop solar" covers more than 20% of CA super peak load. Utility scale solar covers another 30%. The total load during the nearly "100% renewable" moment was under 20GW. 

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