Photo of Seth Hilton

Seth Hilton, a partner in Stoel Rives’ Energy Development group, focuses his practice on energy regulation and litigation, representing clients before a variety of energy regulatory agencies in California, including the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, as well as in stakeholder proceedings at the California Independent System Operator. His clients include developers of thermal and renewable generation, energy storage developers, transmission developers, energy service providers, and investor-owned and publicly-owned utilities. Seth also represents energy clients in state and federal court and has significant experience in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation.

Click here for Seth Hilton's full bio.

On Thursday, May 9, 2024, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued an addendum to its Interconnection Process Enhancements (IPE) Track 2 Final Proposal, and issued a revised version of that addendum on May 17.  Track 2 focuses on modifications to the interconnection and queue management processes to address the substantial interconnection request volumes in

Background

The California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) recently issued Interconnection Process Enhancements (IPE) final proposal[1] provides heightened requirements to complete an interconnection request and relies on scoring criteria to determine which projects advance to the interconnection study process. Due to the proposed 150% cap on specific interconnection zones, not all interconnection requests in each

Summary

On March 29, 2024, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) released the Track 2 final proposal for its Interconnection Process Enhancements (IPE) initiative. The proposed changes in the IPE proposal aim to address the “unprecedented and unsustainable interconnection request volumes” in the CAISO.  CAISO proposes to adopt a zonal approach that prioritizes project interconnection in areas with existing or planned transmission capacity, to cap the number of projects permitted to proceed into the study process at 150% of the available and planned transmission capacity in specific zones, and adopt scoring criteria for eligibility and prioritization in the interconnection study process. Continue Reading CAISO Releases Interconnection Process Enhancements Final Proposal

On November 16, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) voted to adopt a decision resolving the remaining issues in the Net Energy Metering (NEM) proceeding.  The decision, issued on November 22 as D.23-11-068, applies the net billing tariff concept adopted in D.22-12-56 to virtual net metering customers (VNEM) and aggregated NEM customers (NEMA), which

On June 30, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 205 (“AB 205”), which, among various other things, expands the siting jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) to include non-thermal generating facilities, such as solar and wind projects, with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more.  The CEC’s siting jurisdiction was previously

On May 20, 2022, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC or Commission) issued a proposed decision (PD) that would, among other things, adopt Southern California Edison’s (SCE) 24-hour-slice proposal as the new resource adequacy (RA) framework applicable to load-serving entities (LSEs) under the CPUC’s jurisdiction.  Generally, the proposal would require each LSE to show that it has enough capacity to meet its specific gross-load profile, including a planning-reserve margin, or PRM, for all 24 hours for the “worst day” of each month.  The “worst day” would be defined as the day of the month that has the highest coincident-peak-load forecast.  This new RA framework would likely be implemented in 2025, with 2024 serving as a “test year” for the new framework.

The Commission initially began examining potential changes to its RA framework due to significant and ongoing changes in California’s generation-resource mix, with the increasing reliance on variable resources such as solar and wind, and use-limited resources, such as energy storage and demand response, as well as the retirement of older natural gas generation.  The Commission solicited proposals for a new RA framework starting in 2020, and in 2021 it tentatively adopted Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) slice-of-day proposal in decision 21-07-014.  The Commission ordered a series of workshops to further develop the proposal, culminating in a workshop report submitted March 1, 2022.  During the workshops, two alternate proposals were developed:  SCE’s 24-hour-slice proposal, and a two-slice proposal developed by Gridwell Consulting.  The parties generally favored one of the two alternate proposals, rather than the PG&E slice-of-day proposal.  The selection of SCE’s 24-hour-slice proposal will set the direction for further development of the new RA framework.
Continue Reading The California Public Utilities Commission Issues Proposed Decision on New Resource Adequacy Framework

On May 18, 2022, the California Energy Commission met to discuss its draft report to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonization benefits and establish megawatt offshore wind planning goals for 2030 and 2045. The report is the first of three interim work products that California AB 525 directs CEC to prepare. By the end of this year, the CEC must complete and submit a preliminary assessment of economic benefits as they relate to seaport investments and workforce development needs, and complete and submit a permitting roadmap. The ultimate requirement of AB 525 is to require, by June 30, 2023, the CEC, in coordination with federal, state, and local agencies and a wide variety of stakeholders, to develop a strategic plan for offshore wind energy developments installed off the California coast in federal waters and submit it to the California Natural Resources Agency and the Legislature.Continue Reading California Energy Commission Discusses Draft Report on Offshore Wind

On December 6, 2021, the California ISO issued an issue paper and straw proposal (“Straw Proposal”) for its Interconnection Process Enhancements stakeholder proceeding. The California ISO initiated this stakeholder proceeding on September 30, 2021 with the issuance of a preliminary issue paper. The stakeholder process comes at a time when an unprecedented level of energy procurement in California has caused dramatic increases in the number of projects in the California ISO’s interconnection queue. The California ISO’s most recent cluster, cluster 14, saw a record number of 373 interconnection requests being submitted, representing 150,000 megawatts of generating capacity, compared to 155 requests submitted in 2020. Ultimately, the volume of interconnection requests forced the California ISO to seek authority from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend its interconnection process by approximately one year.

The Interconnection Process Enhancements initiative will have two phases. Phase 1 will focus on near-term enhancements for cluster 14 and before the summer of 2022. The proposals in Phase 1 are scheduled be submitted to the California ISO Board of Governors in May 2022. Phase 2 will focus on longer term modifications and broader reforms to align interconnection processes with procurement activities. Those proposals are scheduled to be submitted to the Board in November 2022.
Continue Reading California ISO Issues Straw Proposal in Interconnection Process Enhancements Stakeholder Proceeding

On October 29, 2021, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued three proposed decisions intended to address potential electric capacity shortfalls in 2022 and 2023.  The proposed decisions, if approved, would implement a variety of demand-side and supply-side policies designed to ensure that in the event of extreme weather during the summer of 2022 and/or 2023, California has sufficient electric capacity to avoid outages.

Background

In August 2020, the California ISO experienced outages during the evenings of August 14 and 15, and only extraordinary efforts, including voluntary conservation efforts by California energy users, allowed the California ISO to avoid outages the following week.

After those outages, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have been working towards addressing potential capacity shortfalls during extreme weather events during the summer.  In November 2020, the CPUC opened a rulemaking (R.20-11-003) to ensure reliability in the event of extreme weather during the summer of 2021.  In February 2021, the CPUC adopted a decision directing procurement of additional capacity (D.21-02-028), and in March, adopted a decision directing additional demand-side and supply-side actions to increase supply and decrease load during extreme weather events (D.21-03-056).

California managed to avoid outages during the summer of 2021, although it was helped by relatively mild weather in August and September.  A stack analysis performed by the CEC this summer, however, showed the potential for capacity shortfalls of up to 4,350 megawatts (MW) for summer 2022.  In August, the CPUC implemented a second phase to R.21-11-003, to ensure reliability during the summers of 2022 and 2023.
Continue Reading California Public Utilities Commission Takes Action to Prevent Outages During Summer 2022 and 2023