New California report lays out latest electricity planning goals

To meet energy needs of a growing population and a recovering economy in the face of climate change and loss of power plants in Southern California, the state must find ways to advance two preferred resources—energy efficiency and demand response—said a report approved Jan. 15 by the California Energy Commission.

The 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) is the commission’s assessment of key energy issues facing California. It forecasts California’s future energy supply and demand and features a single managed demand forecast that leaders of the Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Independent System Operator (ISO) agreed to use for planning and investment purposes.

“The only way we can maintain a reliable power system in Southern California with minimal economic and environmental costs is with a balanced portfolio of preferred and conventional resources,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller. “This IEPR focuses on increasing the deployment of preferred resources, in particular energy efficiency and demand response.”

Key findings include:

  • The urgency to scale-up demand response is high, if California is to maintain a reliable electric system, particularly in Southern California in the absence of the to-be-retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the retirement of fossil-fired power plants that use once-through-cooling, and the need for flexibility to integrate intermittent renewable resources. Despite its primary position in the loading order, there has been little progress toward integrating demand response into standard practice for grid operation, the report noted. The energy agencies are working to address market barriers to increase deployment of demand response.
  • California must plan for how climate change is likely to compromise electricity supply and demand, particularly during heat waves and cold snaps. For the first time, the 2013 IEPR looked at the impact climate change will have on electricity and natural gas consumption, in addition to electricity peak demand. Under a “mid” climate scenario, it found that consumption would increase by about 1,200 gigawatt hours and peak demand by 1.5 gigawatts in the next 10 years (equivalent to three large conventional power plants). Taking climate change into account in the IEPR planning process will reduce the possibility of future electricity shortfalls under a warming climate.
  • For the first time, the 2013 IEPR included additional achievable energy efficiency (AAEE) scenarios directly within the demand forecast. The energy agencies’ leaderships agreed to use the combined mid-demand baseline forecast and mid-AAEE scenario for their respective planning purposes. Significantly, the agreed-upon scenario anticipates nearly flat load growth over the next 10 years.

Achieving California’s 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction goals (80% below 1990 levels) will require substantial transformation of California’s energy system. These challenges will be explored as part of the Climate Change 2013 Scoping Plan update, in addition to potential interim goals for 2030. The analysis will focus on three strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: energy efficiency, particularly in existing buildings; expanded zero-emission vehicles deployment; and decarbonizing the Western grid. The Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board will also jointly develop metrics to track progress against the 2013 Scoping Plan update.

The report incorporates and relies on data from the state’s other principal energy agencies, the CPUC and California ISO. The Energy Commission and CPUC established California’s “loading order” for new energy resources that puts energy efficiency and demand response first, renewable electricity supplies second, and new fossil-fired power plants last. The order was adopted in 2003 and is the foundation for the IEPR reports.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.