Cal-ISO’s three-year plan encourages participation of clean resources like demand response, energy efficiency

In its new three-year vision for evolving the high-voltage transmission grid into a sophisticated digital network, the California ISO (Cal-ISO) said it will respond to the changes before it with three broad strategic efforts over the next three years and beyond: leading the transition to renewable energy; reliably managing the grid during industry transformation; and expanding regional collaboration to unlock mutual benefits.

The Cal-ISO’s board of directors released the “Building a sustainable energy future 2014-2016 strategic plan” on Sept. 12.

The strategic direction encourages participation of clean resources, such as demand response and energy efficiency, the Cal-ISO added in its Sept. 12 statement. Taking into account the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the plan also factors in a critical infrastructure refurbishing of the Southern California electric network that is complicated by looming compliance deadlines for large once-through cooled power plants in the region.

In total, the Cal-ISO added, about 7,000 MW of generation could disappear in the next several years.

“Our new strategic priorities seek to advance flexible resources that match fluctuations of wind and solar power, allowing us to put more renewables on the grid,” Bob Foster, Cal-ISO board chairman, said in the statement.

On the first strategy, Cal-ISO said in its plan that it will create new market opportunities for new clean energy resources, energy efficiency and demand response, while working with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission to coordinate procurement mechanisms so financial incentives for new technologies are aligned.

Also, it will facilitate timely development of generator interconnection projects; collaborate on an integrated agency roadmap that can drive innovation, investment and jobs in ways that also minimize environmental impacts; encourage advanced technologies that provide instantaneous visibility and automated response to grid conditions; and advocate for increased price transparency to enable consumers to make smarter choices about their energy use.

Furthermore, the Cal-ISO said it will invest in technology to advance its ability to forecast electricity supply and demand, and predict the impact of weather and changing usage patterns on them. Additionally, the Cal-ISO will enable the wide deployment of new technologies by conducting pilot projects to explore the integration of flexible storage, demand response, distributed generation and electric vehicles.

The Department of Defense plans to spend $20m on a fleet of electric vehicles with a unique capability to export their own power, Cal-ISO added, noting that the Los Angeles Air Force Base and the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, Calif., will be the first two federal facilities to implement this vehicle-to-grid program.

On the second strategy, Cal-ISO said it has identified the need for very specific operational capabilities needed in real-time to allow electric supply to keep up with demand and reduce production during over-supply conditions. Since there is no effective mechanism looking out two to three years to procure those flexible capabilities at this point, the Cal-ISO said it will coordinate compliance with the state’s once-through cooling policy and local reliability requirements.

Also, it will work with the CPUC to develop certain market-based solutions, such as enhancing the CPUC’s existing long-term procurement and resource adequacy programs, to ensure availability and financial viability of flexible resources.

The Cal-ISO also said it will advocate for critical policy changes that will facilitate renewable integration, such as time-of-use rates; work cooperatively on efforts to streamline generation interconnections on the distribution and transmission systems; and support resiliency of the grid by protecting against known threats and preparing to recover quickly from unforeseen events that threaten the grid.

Of the third strategy, the Cal-ISO noted that it is now offering to provide its existing real-time energy imbalance market, which has been in effect since 2009, as a service to other balancing authorities. It said it is working with stakeholders to develop policies that will provide the service to PacifiCorp, with the potential to expand the operation to other utilities.

The energy imbalance market automates optimal generation dispatch on a five-minute basis, Cal-ISO said, adding that when the system goes into operation in 2014, the ISO and PacifiCorp are confident of being able to show that the energy imbalance market reduces costs and emissions.

To achieve its strategy for enhanced regional collaboration over the next three years, Cal-ISO said it will provide a platform for an energy imbalance market in the West that facilitates more efficient, reliable and cost-effective grid operations and renewable integration; develop new market mechanisms to bring online resources offering the operational flexibility needed to orchestrate the increasingly complicated electricity network in California and the West; and work with interested balancing authorities on studies that uncover potential value in greater collaboration.

The Cal-ISO also said it will explore opportunities for deeper collaboration and partnership with other regional players to improve the reliability, efficiency and security of electric service to its respective customers; engage others in the western region to accelerate and demonstrate potential new technologies; and stimulate higher levels of renewable power generation in the West.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3107 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.