California ISO releases ‘vision’ document on the future of renewables

The Board of Governors of the California Independent System Operator (ISO) has approved an update to its 2014-2016 strategic plan by adding a blueprint for dealing with challenges emerging in the energy industry while further greening the grid.

The document, released March 27 and called “Pursuing a Strategic Vision for a Sustainable Energy Future,” details changes on the horizon of the electricity landscape and ways the power grid operator can work to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent call for 50% of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources. The board approved the plan at its meeting on March 26.

“This strategic vision outlines how the ISO will respond to a rapidly changing electric system,” said Steve Berberich, ISO president and chief executive officer. “We will keep our focus on reducing carbon, lowering costs and working collaboratively for everyone’s benefit, while maintaining a reliable grid.”

Richard Maullin, Chair of the ISO Board, explained that the vision statement was needed because of the rapid pace of change in the energy industry and the issues stemming from rising amounts of renewable energy integration into the power grid, including the growing occurrence of overgeneration, or producing excess power at times of the day when it’s not needed.

“The strategic vision summarizes the opportunities and challenges facing California and the West in the ongoing transition to a low-carbon electric grid, through the integration of more renewable energy generation into our power mix,” Maullin said. “The vision statement emphasizes strategies for matching supply with energy demand and coordinating usage to match energy production, and the benefits of enhanced regional cooperation for assuring grid reliability along with carbon reduction.”

The vision statement notes how some of this needed new capacity can be sited outside of California. “The western North America region is rich in renewable resources, from vast hydro resources in British Columbia and the northwest to geothermal generation in California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, wind in Montana and Wyoming, and solar potential in the deserts of the southwest and Mexico,” it said. “Drawing resources from a larger geographic region smooths the peaks and valleys of energy supply and demand, adding flexibility and reliability to the grid.”

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.