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

With the failure of last year’s regionalization governance bill, attention has shifted to efforts to expand the energy imbalance market to allow day-ahead trades and transactions. CEERT and other Western NGOs are actively participating in discussions as the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) begins a review of enlarging the Energy Imbalance Market’s (EIM’s) current governance structure to encompass a new Enhanced Day Ahead Market (EDAM).

Some CAISO market participants, especially those from outside California, have argued for an expansive role for the EIM Governance Review Committee to include decisions on issues affecting the real-time market. California’s investor owned utilities (IOUs) have pushed for a narrower role for the Committee, arguing that since many EIM participants are voluntary and can leave at any time, it is important that California IOUs and their customers be protected from unfair treatment resulting from out-of-state market participants having too much influence on key issues that are central to the CAISO real-time market.

Although CEERT shares some of these concerns, our Executive Director V. John White and Grid Policy Director Liz Anthony Gill have been engaging with advocates from throughout the West to develop fair and balanced suggestions on the full range of governance issues. We are working to ensure any changes lead EIM entities and their regulatory bodies to feel comfortable with the governance structure, while at the same time enabling CAISO and California Participating Transmission Owners to meet California energy policy goals and uphold California state law.

CEERT submitted joint comments with regional clean-energy advocates to the Governance Review Committee, and will remain engaged throughout the process. We anticipate that, in parallel with the governance review, the CAISO will begin a formal stakeholder process on the more technical issues with EDAM development, such as transmission access charges, transmission availability, greenhouse gas (GHG) adders, and resource sufficiency this summer.

There has been steady progress in adding new utility participants to the Energy Imbalance Market, and confidence and comfort is growing with the operations of the EIM and its demonstrated role in balancing loads and reducing costs.

 

Discussions with the Governor’s Office

V. John White participated in several meetings and conference calls with a coalition of renewable contract holders and affiliated trade groups to discuss the Governor’s strike force recommendations, and to emphasize the critical importance of preventing renewable contracts from being abrogated in the PG&E bankruptcy proceedings. We also discussed the need to connect victims’ compensation funds and an expanded insurance pool to any proposals to reform or limit utility liability for wildfire damages.