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California Proposes Actions To Address Grid Reliability, Low-Carbon Future


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has proposed new actions designed to address reliable electric service while ensuring that California continues to make progress toward decarbonizing its electric grid.

The proposal directs utilities, community choice aggregators and direct access providers to procure 2.5 GW of resources needed for reliable electricity between 2021 and 2023.

The proposal would require entities to conduct all-source procurement, soliciting offers from battery storage, demand response, energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, alongside existing gas-fired generation plants. Given cost trends from similar recent all-source solicitations in California and other states, the CPUC anticipates that renewable energy and battery storage will compete well. Deploying renewable energy and battery storage, as well as gas-fired generation, to meet the reliability needs identified by the CPUC and stakeholders will advance California toward a low-carbon, reliable future, says the commission.

Our job at the CPUC is to both move our electricity generation resources toward Californias vision of a low-carbon future and ensure that our diverse portfolio of electricity generation serves people, businesses and industry along the way, says Liane M. Randolph, lead commissioner for long-range energy resource planning and ongoing reliability planning at the CPUC. We are managing unprecedented energy market conditions in California, which inform the steps we are taking today.

The proposal also recommends that the state consider extending the compliance dates for some generation resources that were expected to retire at the end of 2020 in compliance with once-through cooling policies. The CPUC says it is committed to retiring these facilities but recommends this action be taken to ensure the reliable operation of the grid until the new resources ordered in the decision can be brought online.

The commission expects that the impacts of continued operation of these facilities will be mitigated because they typically operate only during peak load conditions when reliability issues arise and/or energy prices are very high and thus, their emissions levels and use of seawater for cooling are low.

According to the CPUC, the need for procurement is driven by several policies and market trends:

The electricity resources required in the proposal will help integrate Californias pathbreaking amount of renewable energy delivering to the electric grid which is helping shift each days peak to the evening, the period between solars daytime production and winds nighttime production;

Per California environmental policy, more than 4 GW of gas-fired generation along coastal California is expected to retire by the end of 2020;

Changing hydrological patterns are making hydroelectric resources more variable each year;

Peak loads are expected to remain high into September each year, when less hydroelectric generation is available in California and across the West; and

Energy that California imports from other states is increasingly uncertain on hot days because generation resources may begin to respond to similar hot conditions in other states across the Western electrical footprint.

If approved by the CPUC, the proposal will result in the procurement of resources to be brought online beginning in summer 2021 and continuing through summer 2023.

The first opportunity for the CPUCs commissioners to vote on the proposal is at their Oct. 24 voting meeting in Redding.


Bruce Perry's picture
Bruce Perry on Sep 24, 2019 3:59 pm GMT

In the news was an article that once-through cooling is killing microorganisms and yet the warm water coming from these plants has created its own ecosystem so shutting these plants down will kill those. Strange that this is never mentioned? 
That's because we're being sold a bill of goods.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 24, 2019 8:52 pm GMT

Do you happen to have a link to that news article? I'd be interested to read more, Bruce. 

Bruce Perry's picture
Bruce Perry on Oct 8, 2019 4:18 pm GMT

Its never been discussed but those that have dealt with utilities know this to be true. Divers are brought in to clean the growth from the water inlets and discharge lines.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 8, 2019 8:11 pm GMT

I'm just asking about the article you said was in the news in your comment: 

In the news was an article that once-through cooling is killing microorganisms and yet the warm water coming from these plants has created its own ecosystem so shutting these plants down will kill those.

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