California ISO says new capacity additions lately are 85% solar

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) said in a summer 2016 report released May 18 that it projects that 54,459 MW of net qualifying capacity (NQC) will be available for summer 2016.

The report considers the supply and demand conditions across the entire CAISO balancing authority area (representing about 80% of California), and then further considers separately the conditions in the Northern California zone (North of Path 26 or NP26) and the Southern California zone (South of Path 26 or SP26).

From June 1, 2015, to June 1, 2016, a total of 2,306 MW of additional generation is expected to reach commercial operation, with 1,520 MW in SP26 and 786 MW in NP26. As of March 11, 2016, 1,903 MW of this additional generation was in commercial operation with an additional 403 MW expected by June 1, 2016. Of the 2,306 MW, approximately 85% is solar, 6% is natural gas, 4% is wind, 4% is hydro and 1% is biofuel. During this same period, 355 MW of generation retired in SP26.

The recorded 2015 summer peak demand reached 47,257 MW on Sept. 10, 2015. Adjusting the load to normalized weather results in a peak load of 47,167 MW for the CAISO in 2015, which is an increase of 2% from the 2014 summer weather normalized peak demand of 46,229 MW. The load growth is the result of continued economic recovery from the recession, which was somewhat muted by the continuing trend of behind the meter solar photovoltaic installations. 

The largest single generation resource type in CAISO is natural gas generation accounting for 64.6% and the second largest generation type is non-hydro renewables including geothermal, biogas, biomass, wind and solar units that make up about 16.8%. Hydro accounts for 13.9%. Nuclear generation accounts for 4.1% while other fossil fuel generation provide 0.5%.

A total of 2,306 MW of generation additions are expected to enter commercial operation for this summer, 1,520 MW in SP26 and 786 MW in NP26. 

Hydroelectric capability is projected to be near normal for the 2016 spring and summer seasons. The close to normal hydro generation assumption was based on data as of March 30, 2016, that indicated the statewide snow water content was 87% of average for that date.

Once-through cooling impacts being dealt with

There are a number of mostly gas-fired power plants that are subject to the Statewide Water Quality Control Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling. Of the once through cooling (OTC) units’ 17,792 MW of generating capability affected by the regulations, 5,706 MW are in compliance. The remaining 9,847 MW of generation will be required to repower or retire in by the end of 2020, with many expected by the end of 2017. Compliance for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is subject to a pending study by a Water Board Review Committee for Nuclear Fueled Power Plants.

Currently there are no indications that OTC compliance dates are not achievable. However, an April 2016 draft report of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS) recognized that existing facilities using OTC technology may require an extension of their retirement/repowering plans under the OTC policy compliance schedule if one or more uncertainties combine to threaten local or system reliability or if replacement infrastructure is not developed on a schedule that matches with the existing OTC compliance dates.

SACCWIS plans to include the status of new infrastructure development in the CAISO system and local capacity areas to the State Water Board in future discussions concerning the implementation of the OTC policy.

With no planed retirements of any OTC units in the 2016 summer timeframe, no impacts from implementation of the OTC policy are expected during the 2016 summer period.

Upcoming OTC deadlines for gas-fired plants are:

  • Encina Power Station Units 1-5, NRG Energy, deadline of 12/31/2017, 946 MW;
  • Pittsburg Units 5 and 6, NRG Energy, deadline of 12/31/2017, 629 MW;
  • Moss Landing Units 1 and 2, Dynegy, deadline of 12/31/2017, 1,020 MW;
  • Moss Landing Units 6 and 7, Dynegy, deadline of 12/31/2017, 1,500 MW;
  • Huntington Beach Units 1-2, AES Corp., deadline of 12/31/2020, 452 MW;
  • Redondo Beach Units 5-8, AES, deadline of 12/31/2020, 1,343 MW;
  • Alamitos Units 1-6, AES, deadline of 12/31/2020, 2,011 MW;
  • Mandalay Units 1 and 2, NRG, deadline of 12/31/2020, 430 MW; and
  • Ormond Beach Units 1 and 2, NRG, deadline of 12/31/2020, 1,516 MW.
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.