Low-Carbon Grid

CEERT’s Low-Carbon Grid Program promotes the integration of large amounts of renewable energy on the grid by tracking and intervening in crucial proceedings at the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and other agencies. We also seek to foster joint operating agreements between the CAISO and the state’s municipal and investor-owned utilities, and promote coordination and consolidation of the Balancing Areas in our state and region as a low-cost means of integrating renewable power. The issues are often highly technical, but have enormous impact on the price of renewable energy projects and their access to the transmission and distribution system.

Recent Developments:

Grid Modernization and Reform

CEERT continues to work to decrease the gas burn in California, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Grid Policy Director Liz Anthony has completed a database with statistics on generation, CO2 emissions, NOx emissions, starts, average heat rates, and average emissions rates for 2017 and capacity factors for 2012–2017 for each gas-fired generating unit in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) footprint, along with geographical information such as local reliability area, air basin, and CalEnviroScreen score. From this data, CEERT can begin to identify the “worst” and “most useful” gas generators.

Liz has met with California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) staff Paul Douglas and Molly Sterkel and CPUC Energy Division Director Ed Randolph to discuss the results of the analysis. This type of data could be helpful for both the gas study and disadvantaged community analysis in the IRP proceeding.


Western Grid Integration

CEERT is continuing to work with the Fix the Grid campaign to identify a viable path to better regional integration as part of the strategy for a low-carbon grid. A current bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 813, establishes guidelines, including required CEC approval, for utilities and other load-serving entities to join a regional transmission operator. Clean Power Campaign is supportive of the bill and is working with Assemblymember Holden and Energy Committee staffer Kelly Smith to address stakeholder concerns.

CEERT Executive Director V. John White has also engaged with environmental justice advocates to identify policy solutions to minimize criteria pollutants from the ramping and starting of gas-fired resources, regardless of whether a regional integration bill moves forward.

CEERT continues to collaborate with colleagues in the Pacific Northwest to identify and push other strategies for increased regional coordination. CAISO’s current Flexible Resource Adequacy Criteria and Must Offer Obligation 2 (FRACMOO 2) proposal incorporates a framework that allows clean Northwest hydro resources to be counted as providing flexibility capacity. The draft proposal has now been introduced into the CPUC Resource Adequacy proceeding to move forward in parallel with the CAISO stakeholder process. A decision on FRACMOO 2 by the CAISO Board of Governors is expected in July.

Discussions with the Governor’s Office

V. John White and Liz Anthony met with Saúl Gómez and Alice Reynolds of the Governor’s office to convey our dissatisfaction with the CPUC decision on Diablo Canyon and the fact that without additional, near-term procurement, GHG emissions will increase when Diablo retires.  We also explained how the CPUC’s Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) decision included errors in the baseline emission calculations, and noted that the decision to delay procurement until 2028 is inconsistent with the CPUC’s modeling results and will have the effect of preventing achievement of the 2030 GHG target.

John also met with Saúl and Alice to discuss the stalemate on new renewable procurement because of the utilities’ paralysis in the face of wildfire liability and the emergence of community choice aggregators (CCAs).  We talked about the need for transparency, oversight and coordination of procurement, and the possibility that we need a new regulatory framework that would govern renewable procurement, GHG planning, and coordination because of the CPUC’s failure to effectively balance system needs and their inability or unwillingness to provide meaningful oversight of the CCAs.