California ISO reports more than 54 GW of capacity available for summer peak

Even as natural gas supply shortages threaten reliability in Southern California, a report issued May 18 by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) says summer power reserves will be adequate for most of the state.

 The CAISO projects that 54,459 MW of net qualifying capacity (NQC) will be available for summer 2016. The CAISO 2016 1-in-2 peak demand forecast is 47,529 MW, which is 0.8% above the 2015 weather normalized peak demand of 47,167 MW. The modest demand increase is a result of projected modest economic growth over 2015,

The ISO’s 2016 Summer Loads and Resources Assessment included a yearly analysis of supply and demand projections for California’s summer months.

The assessment points a multi-agency report conducted in April specifically on shortages related to last year’s natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in the Los Angeles area. That report found significant risks to electricity deliveries, potentially leading to 14 days of electrical outages in Southern California.

Separate from the potential Aliso Canyon impacts, the state-wide outlook is positive for the summer, according to the report. Continued moderate peak demand growth, combined with new power plants coming online and improved hydroelectric generation conditions will support possible extreme operating conditions.

The assessment considers the supply and demand conditions across the entire CAISO balancing authority area (representing about 80% of California).

“The natural gas issues facing southern California this summer will require deft management, particularly during hot days when power plants fueled by natural gas are needed to meet peak demand,” said ISO CEO and President Steve Berberich.

“The ISO has moved quickly to put into place new mechanisms to reduce the impact of gas curtailments on electric reliability. We are also asking consumers to respond to calls for energy conservation on days we call a Flex Alert,” Berberich said.

The 2016 Summer Assessment found that supplies will be adequate under typical state summer weather conditions. The assessment, developed in close coordination with state energy agencies, shows the following:

• Total net qualifying generation capacity available this summer is expected to be about 54,459 megawatts, a net increase of 1,951 MW from June 1, 2015; and

• 2016 summer peak is projected to be about 47,529 MW, which reflects projected modest economic growth over 2015.

o 2015 summer peak was 47,257 MW set on Sept. 10.

o All-time summer peak was set on July 24, 2006 at 50,270 MW.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at