On August 31, 2021, the California ISO held its August Summer Readiness Update Call.  During the month of August, the California ISO grid faired well, as temperatures were more mild, and any hot weather was localized, rather than extending across the western United States.

The California ISO also noted recent transparency improvements, including publication of a daily RA Capacity Trend and 7-Day Capacity Trend, as well a Daily Day-Ahead Summer Report and a monthly Summer Market Performance Report.
Continue Reading California ISO Holds Summer Readiness Update Call for August

On August 30, 2021, the California Energy Commission (CEC) held a workshop on its Midterm Reliability Analysis and Incremental Efficiency Improvements to Natural Gas Power Plants.  CEC Commissioners Gunda and Douglas were in attendance, as were California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioners Rechtschaffen and Houck.  CEC staff covered midterm (2022-2026) capacity needs, and potential thermal capacity needs, as well as permitted and potential thermal capacity additions.  The workshop also included a panel discussing the deployment and performance of battery energy storage, including a discussion of the risks that could impact California’s planned reliance on large amounts of battery energy storage (over 14,000 MW by 2032 in the CPUC’s recently-released draft Preferred System Portfolio).

The CEC staff’s Midterm Reliability Analysis consisted of a loss of load expectation (LOLE) analysis of a variety of scenarios built around various assumed procurement portfolios, including the CPUC’s draft PSP and a scenario based upon procurement already ordered by the CPUC (1,505 MW NQC from D.19-11-016, and either 9,500 or 11,500 MW NQC from D.21-06-035).  The Analysis focused on the May through October time frame, not the entire year.  It also assumed that procured resources would show up.  Finally, it did not evaluate the impact of extreme weather events.
Continue Reading California Energy Commission Holds Workshop on Midterm Reliability; Finds No Reliability Need for Additional Gas Resources

In docket R.20-05-003, its Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering its preferred portfolio of new resources for the next ten years.  A lengthy administrative law judge ruling issued August 17, 2021 set out a suggested Preferred System Plan (PSP) for the proceeding, including a suggested resource portfolio through 2032,

On August 19, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a proposed decision accepting the 2019 Renewables Portfolio Standard Procurement Plans submitted by four new Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs): Butte Choice Energy Authority; Clean Energy Alliance; the City of Santa Barbara; and San Diego Community Power.  Each of these CCAs is anticipated to start providing

On July 17, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California rendered its decision in U.S. v. California (Case 2:19-cv-02142-WBS-EFB), upholding the agreement between California and the Canadian Province of Québec that links California and Québec’s respective cap-and-trade programs.  In its opinion, the District Court rejected the federal government’s claim that the California-Québec agreement is preempted under the Foreign Affairs Doctrine.  The District Court ruled earlier this year on the federal government’s other claims, finding that the agreement did not violate either the Treaty or Compact Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.  With the decision on July 17, the California-Québec agreement will remain in place, allowing the two jurisdictions to continue to link their cap-and-trade programs.  The federal government has not yet stated whether it will appeal the District Court’s decision.
Continue Reading U.S. District Court Upholds California’s Cap-and-Trade Agreement with Québec

In a stakeholder call yesterday, the CAISO discussed the Revised Draft Final Proposal in the Generator Deliverability Assessment stakeholder initiative. During the call, the CAISO addressed outstanding stakeholder questions, including confirming key upcoming dates for project developers.

Background on the Proposal

The CAISO is proposing revisions to its deliverability assessment methodology in response to the rapid increase in the amount of solar resources and the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) resulting transition to an Effective Load Carrying Capability (ELCC) approach to calculating qualifying capacity (QC). The CAISO’s revisions are intended to more closely align the capacity studied in the deliverability assessment with the generator’s anticipated QC under the CPUC’s new ELCC methodology. Under the current deliverability assessment methodology, generators are studied at a higher capacity than the projects can qualify for under the ELCC methodology. Under the revised deliverability methodology, projects are expected to retain their full capacity deliverability status (FCDS) and their NQC value will not be reduced, but the proposed change should be beneficial to future interconnection customers because it will free up some unused deliverability and likely result in fewer required network upgrades to receive FCDS.

As part of the proposal the CAISO is also creating a new sub-status for solar and wind projects: Off-Peak Deliverability Status (OPDS). New solar and wind OPDS resources will receive market scheduling priority by continuing to be allowed to self-schedule as an incentive for resources to develop in locations that do not trigger upgrades or trigger only low-cost localized transmission upgrades.
Continue Reading CAISO Clarifies Generator Deliverability Assessment Proposal

On July 29, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision in Winding Creek Solar LLC v. Peterman et al., ruling that California’s feed-in tariff for small qualifying facilities (QFs), the Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT), violates the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) (Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-17531). ReMAT provides small QFs of three megawatts (MW) or less with a standard contract for energy offtake, on a first-come, first-served basis. Under ReMAT, rates available to any given generator fluctuate based on the price the developers ahead in the contract queue will accept. The California investor-owned utilities must offer ReMAT contracts up to a program cap of 750 MW, which is proportionately split among the utilities, and then further divided across different types of generation, including baseload and peak/non-peak resources.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that ReMAT violated two tenets of PURPA. Under PURPA, subject to certain exemptions, utilities are required to buy at the avoided cost rate all the power produced by a QF. First, contrary to PURPA’s requirement that a utility buy all of a QF’s output, the Ninth Circuit found that ReMAT limits the amount of energy that utilities are required to purchase from QFs by placing caps on procurement. Second, ReMAT sets a market-based rate for energy from participating QFs, rather than a price based on the utilities’ avoided cost as required under PURPA.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California ReMAT in Winding Creek Solar Case

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is accepting stakeholder comments until August 13, 2019 on its new Hybrid Resources Issue Paper, kicking off a stakeholder initiative expected to proceed until April 2020. Initial comments submitted now will help shape the direction of the initiative and potential market changes.

Though not exclusively limited to renewables + storage (the CAISO defines “hybrid” to mean any combination of multiple technologies or fuel types combined into a single resource with a single point of interconnection), the CAISO emphasizes the anticipated impacts of increased storage market penetration, including new operational and forecasting challenges,  as a driving force for the initiative. The CAISO has observed that the number of hybrid resource configurations seeking interconnection comprises approximately 41% of the CAISO’s Generator Interconnection Queue’s total capacity.Continue Reading CAISO Seeks Stakeholder Feedback on Hybrid Resource Market Participation

On April 25, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopted a decision (“Decision”) in its Integrated Resource Plan (“IRP”) proceeding, R.16-02-007.

The Decision examined the first round of integrated resource plans filed by each of the load-serving entities subject to CPUC jurisdiction. The Decision approved the plans filed by 20 load-serving entities, found that another eight load-serving entities were not required to file integrated resource plans, and found that 19 plans were insufficient as they failed to address criteria pollutant issues. One load-serving entity—Commercial Energy of California, an energy service provider—failed to file an integrated resource plan at all. The Decision also provides specific guidance for plan development for each load-serving entity for the next IRP cycle.

CPUC staff also aggregated all of the resource plans into a single portfolio—after certain adjustments to render it feasible—defined as the Hybrid Conforming Portfolio, or HCP. Adjustments were necessary to ensure that the consolidated new resource procurement proposals did not exceed resource potential in a geographic area or existing transmission availability. Commission staff identified four regions where the proposed new wind resources exceeded assumed resource potential (Northern California, Solano, Southern California Desert, and Riverside East Palm Springs). Where resource potential was exceeded, staff adjusted the resources to come from nearby regions. There were also five regions where the proposed renewable buildout appeared to exceed assumed available transmission capacity (Central Valley North Los Banos, Greater Carrizo, Southern California Desert, Northern California, and Solano). Adjustments were made in these regions by converting the proposed projects to energy-only, or moving resources to nearby locations when transmission assumptions were exceeded. No resource selections for out-of-state resources that required transmission upgrades, however, were adjusted based on transmission limitations. The Decision requires load-serving entities to disclose the contractual and development status of their resource selections in future IRPs, in order to help avoid adjustment issues in the future, and to provide an updated filing with that information to the CPUC by August 16, 2019.
Continue Reading Recent California Public Utilities Commission Decision Charts Path Forward for its IRP Proceeding