Renewable portfolio standard

By Michael Gergen, Tyler Brown, David Pettit and Christopher Randall

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) held on February 16, 2017, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the CAISO reported that because of the “bountiful hydro conditions expected this year and significant additional solar installations both in the form of central station and on rooftops” in California, the CAISO “expects to see significant excess energy production this coming spring.” As a result, the CAISO is forecasting that it may “need to curtail from 6,000 MW to 8,000 MW.”

Based on the CAISO’s Monthly Market Performance Reports, it doesn’t appear that there were any significant curtailments prior to a few isolated days in the Spring of 2015, the Spring and Fall of 2016, and this Winter. This stands in marked contrast to the scale of curtailments that appear to be expected for this Spring. Moreover, in 2014 the CAISO reported that by 2024 it expects maximum hourly curtailments of over 13,000 MW in California under a scenario where the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) targets 40 percent of retail sales by 2024. (This RPS requirement was enacted in October 2015.)

CAISO Graphic depicting renewable curtailment by resource type

By Marc Campopiano, Jennifer Roy, and Francesca Bochner

California energy agencies and key stakeholders have finished the first step of a statewide planning process to evaluate transmission needs in the state and the region. This process, called the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0 (RETI 2.0), will culminate in recommendations to the legislature on where to increase transmission capacity to meet California’s new, more ambitious renewable energy mandate (see our summary of SB 350, which increased California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030). RETI 2.0 is not a regulatory proceeding, but the resultant recommendations will frame and inform future transmission planning in California.

Background

RETI 2.0 was launched in September 2015 by the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), and the US Bureau of Land Management California Office.

In December 2015, the managing agencies released a RETI 2.0 Workplan that divides the RETI 2.0 objectives between three overlapping working groups:

By Marc T. Campopiano, Joshua T. Bledsoe, Douglas Porter, Danny AleshireJennifer Roy and Andrew Yancey

The end of the California State Legislature’s regular session for the year culminated in a frenzy of action, with Assembly members scrambling to pass dozens of bills before midnight on September 12, 2015. The California Legislature voted on a package of 12 bills addressing environmental and health concerns, such as off-shore drilling, divestment of investment funding from coal companies, water quality, energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, and increased public transportation. This post analyzes three of the more significant and controversial bills proposed this year, including last minute changes to each during the final week of the session: SB 350; SB 32; and AB 1288.

SB 350 (De León): The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015

The most far-reaching climate change goals of the climate bill package were enshrined in SB 350. The proposed bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, originally called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and for 50 percent of the state’s utility power to be derived from renewable energy, all by 2030; termed the “50-50-50” formula.

These standards paralleled Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change agenda for the year, which was first announced during his inaugural address in January. Last Wednesday, following a failure to garner the necessary votes amid resistance from moderate Democrats, state legislative leaders amended SB 350 to drop requirements for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks. As modified, the bill passed on a 52-27 vote.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe, Marc T. Campopiano, and Max Friedman

As California begins to turn the page on the first chapter of its efforts to combat climate change through AB 32 and to prepare for greater emissions reductions over the coming decades, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are considering what these changes will mean for electricity transmission infrastructure. To that end, CEC Chair Robert Weisenmiller and CPUC President Michael Picker sent a letter to Cal-ISO President and CEO Stephen Berberich on July 31, 2015 asking him to participate in the planning stages of the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) 2.0. Since 2008, the first iteration of RETI has served as a statewide initiative to identify and implement the energy transmission projects needed to accommodate California’s renewable energy requirements.

Now, with Governor Brown’s executive order to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a number of legislative proposals advancing to set further greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets for 2030 and beyond, as well as the US EPA’s federal Clean Power Plan encouraging regional coordination among states to increase renewable electricity production, the CEC and CPUC feel that the time has come to bring RETI up to date.

By Michael J. Gergen, Joshua T. Bledsoe, David E. Pettit and Tara L. Rice

President Obama recently announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Program Office (LPO) is expanding support for innovative “distributed energy projects” by adding $1 billion in available loan guarantees to support the deployment of these projects through the existing solicitations for Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects and Advanced Fossil Energy Projects.  Eligible projects could include energy storage, smart grid technologies, cogeneration and methane capture for oil and natural gas wells, as well as roof-top solar and energy efficiency technologies that meet certain “innovation” requirements. For example, roof-top solar projects that are combined with storage may be eligible.

The LPO also is targeting distributed energy developers with special supplements to these two pending solicitations that make clear that existing program authority under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and resources may be used to accelerate the deployment of distributed energy projects. The credit enhancement available through DOE’s LPO traditionally has been used to support utility-scale energy projects. In recognition of the important role of distributed energy in the future of US energy markets, the LPO is making a concerted effort to marshal program resources to support innovation in this growing segment.

By Michael Carroll, Marc Campopiano and Max Friedman

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released an August 2015 report projecting local reliability shortfalls in the Los Angeles basin planning area as early as 2021. The deficits may require new natural gas power generation to maintain grid reliability.

This finding is part of the Integrated Energy Policy Report, a collaborative effort with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Independent System Operator, and the California Air Resources Board.

The report recommends that the CPUC “[i]nclude in its 2016 [Long Term Procurement Plan (LTPP)] rulemaking an explicit focus on local capacity requirements. Further, the CPUC should not assume that such requirements in the intermediate period 5-8 years forward have been satisfied through decisions in the 2012 LTPP rulemaking and the procurement activities authorized by D.14-03-004.” This recommendation would represent a significant shift in the CPUC’s planning horizon because the 2016 LTPP is intended to evaluate the need for new power resources beginning in 2026, not as early as 2021. Now, it appears that new resources may be needed much faster than the CPUC had anticipated.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe and Douglas K. Porter

On June 10, 2015, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released a draft final proposal (the “Expanded Metering and Telemetry Options Phase 2, Distributed Energy Resource Provider”) that, if finalized, would represent an initial  step towards a regulatory structure that would result in distributed energy resources (“DERs”) competing in California wholesale energy markets.  DERs are resources that are physically connected to the distribution grid of an electric utility (e.g., rooftop solar, energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and demand response).  In order for DERs to sell into the CAISO wholesale markets, they would use the distribution grid of the electric utility to deliver power to or to take power from the transmission grid.  Currently, the vast majority of existing renewable resources sell their power to California’s electric utilities.  Those distributed resources are compensated by electric utilities for the electricity they generate at a rate far in excess of current CAISO market prices.  In addition, those resources do not have the right or the ability to sell power directly into the wholesale market.  Absent the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopting a substantially revised regulatory structure that sorts out the thorny jurisdictional, economic and technical issues (e.g., metering and compensation for resources located behind the retail meter), the immediate impact of CAISO’s proposal may be modest at best.

By Michael J. Gergen and Marc T. Campopiano

On October 16, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an Order on Tariff Revisions, FERC Docket No. ER14-2574, conditionally accepting, with two substantive modifications, tariff changes proposed by the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) to establish new flexible resource adequacy capacity (“FRAC”) and must-offer obligation (“MOO”) requirements intended to ensure that adequate flexible capacity is available to address the added variability and net load volatility associated with ongoing and expected future changes on the CAISO-controlled grid.  The FRAC-MOO requirements will be effective, subject to a compliance filing by the CAISO (due within 30 days of the date of the order), effective November 1, 2014, to allow load serving entities (“LSEs”) subject to the requirements time to make their first FRAC showings to the CAISO by November 15, 2014.

By Michael J. Gergen, Marc T. Campopiano, and Andrew H. Meyer

On August 14, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) issued an Order Instituting Rulemaking (“Order”) to establish policies, procedures, and rules to guide California investor-owned electric utilities (“IOUs”) in developing their Distribution Resources Plan Proposals (“DRPs”) in accordance with the requirements of Public Utilities Code Section 769.  In particular, the rulemaking will evaluate the IOUs’ existing and future electric distribution infrastructure and planning procedures with respect to incorporating Distributed Energy Resources (“DERs”) into the planning and operation of their electric distribution systems.  DERs include distributed renewable generation resources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies. 

By Michael J. Gergen and Andrew H. Meyer

On August 1, 2014, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) filed proposed tariff changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in FERC Docket No. ER14-2574 that would establish new flexible resource adequacy capacity (“FRAC”) and must-offer obligation (“MOO”) requirements aimed at ensuring that adequate flexible capacity is available to address the added variability and net load volatility associated with ongoing and expected future changes on the CAISO-controlled grid. In its filing, the CAISO proposes a November 1, 2014, effective date for the tariff changes establishing the FRAC-MOO so that they will apply to resource adequacy showings beginning in January 2015.  FERC has set Friday, August 22, 2014, as the due date for comments on the CAISO’s FRAC-MOO proposal.