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CPUC Ruling Improves a Key Grid Transparency Tool for Siting Renewables, Energy Storage

Gwendolyn Brown's picture
Communications Director Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

As Communications Director at IREC, Gwen works to promote awareness of IREC’s programs and successes to advance a 100% clean energy future that is resilient, reliable, and equitable. Prior to...

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  • Feb 2, 2021
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On Wednesday, January 27, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered several key improvements to the Integration Capacity Analysis, a valuable grid transparency tool. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), which filed the Motion requesting the changes adopted in this ruling, commends the Commission for requiring that the analysis be improved so that it serves as a vital tool for siting a wide range of distributed energy resources (DER) in California.   

Integration Capacity Analysis (ICA), called hosting capacity analysis in other states, is a process of modeling conditions on the distribution grid that impact where additional distributed energy resources (DERs), like solar or energy storage, can be added without the need for costly upgrades and/or lengthy interconnection studies. The resulting maps can be critical tools for enabling more efficient and cost effective deployment of clean energy and energy storage. While California utilities’ ICA maps are the most advanced in the country, there were some significant gaps in early versions that needed to be remedied to ensure their usability. 

“Integration Capacity Analysis (ICA) is a proven tool that optimizes the design of new solar installations allowing more solar to be installed. This order requires utilities to ensure it also helps optimally site electric vehicle chargers and other new load sources,” said Larry Sherwood, IREC President and CEO. “If California is going to meet its ambitious climate goals, utilities must quickly facilitate customers’ use of solar, electric vehicles, energy storage, and electric heat. IREC commends the Commission’s decision, which will help facilitate the efficient electrification of the transportation and building sectors.”

“If California is going to meet its ambitious climate goals, utilities must quickly facilitate customers’ use of solar, electric vehicles, energy storage, and electric heat.” — Larry Sherwood, IREC President and CEO

The ruling by the CPUC establishes new requirements to improve the accuracy and usefulness of ICA maps going forward. These include requiring investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to:

  • identify changes to enable the ICA results to aid customers seeking to add electric vehicle charging stations or reduce their use of natural gas in buildings,
  • reduce how much data they redact from their ICA maps, 
  • improve their ICA data validation practices to avoid the presence of undetected errors, 
  • and more broadly engage in a process of continuing improvements to ICA.

Read more about the details of the ruling here. 

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