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 has continued its efforts to find solutions to decrease the gas burn in California. Grid Policy Director Liz Anthony has begun to use the now largely completed gas-fleet database for policy applications. Her outreach to environmental and environmental-justice advocates has helped to further coordination and assistance on policy issues directly relating to the gas fleet, an orderly retirement of gas-fired capacity, and the potential retirement of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The gas database has also been utilized to map gas capacity and usage for local capacity areas and requirements.


Western Grid Integration

In the wake of a legislative session that did not result in governance changes to the California Indepen­dent System Operator (CAISO) that could lead to its becoming a regional system operator, processes have continued for more incremental progress to­ward West­ern grid in­te­gration. CEERT Executive Director V. John White and Grid Policy Director Dr. Liz An­thony Gill met with clean energy and environmental ad­vocates from around the West at an Energy Foun­dation meeting on the direction of future grid-integration advocacy. CEERT shared in the consensus view that incremental steps, such as expanding the Energy Im­balance Market (EIM) to the day-ahead market and increasing bilateral cooperation, are the best — and likely the only — viable path forward.

The CAISO has begun stakeholder processes for an EIM Enhanced Day Ahead Market (EDAM).  EIM expansion to a day-ahead market will require resolution of both governance challenges and such technical challenges as transmission charges, transmission availability, and a resource suffi­ciency test.

The EIM Board now has primary jurisdiction over issues that affect just the EIM, while hybrid authority exists for issues that affect both the CAISO and EIM markets, and suggested changes under consideration would give EIM hybrid authority over changes to the real-time market.  If an EDAM moves forward, there are open questions about how EIM and CAISO Board responsibilities would change. Liz and John are working with advocates in the region on solutions that would both attract utilities from other Western states and retain California’s ability to ensure that grid op­erations enable state policy goals.

Liz and CEERT Technical Director Jim Caldwell have continued to advocate for increased coor­dination and resource sharing between California and the Pacific Northwest.  CEERT led comments submitted to the CAISO on the 2018-19 Transmission Planning Process’s (TPP’s) informational study on Increased Capabili­ties for Transfers of Low Carbon Electri­city between the Pacific Northwest and California. The CAISO has made great strides in improving its ability to adequately model Pacific Northwest hydro.  CEERT has pushed for continued study in the next round of the TPP on evaluating poten­tial infra­structure up­grades and their impact on the gas burn in California, particularly the LA Basin.


Discussions with the Governor’s Office

CEERT held discussions with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research on the technical and commercial feasibility of processing forest waste and other forms of biomass as part of wildfire preparedness and prevention. (With the prospective departure of the Brown Administration, we had fewer meetings with the Governor’s office than usual.)