Electricity grid of the future

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 24, 2013 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This week, utilities, energy developers, environmental groups, consumers and regulators met to discuss the electricity grid of the future in the fifth annual symposium hosted by the California Independent System Operator in Sacramento. The CAISO is the "traffic cop" for most of the electricity flowing in California. Generators and utilities must schedule power and respond to CAISO requests to maintain system reliability.

Topics include the challenge of integrating increasing amounts of intermittent renewable power, replacing energy lost due to the shut-down of the San Onofre nuclear power plant (SONGs), and the advancement of load-side technologies such as customer generation, demand response and energy storage as well as the information technologies that will allow dynamic metering and pricing.

During the first panel discussion of California regulators, Michael Peevey, Chair of the California Public Utilities Commission, noted that there are "troubling signs" that we are going to see higher electricity costs stemming from our purchasing of renewable power, such as has been experienced in Germany and Spain. He said a focus on rates is important to avoid a backlash, but that in the long term other states will be moving in the same direction as California and our leadership is important to the global effort to address climate change.

Peevey, along with California Air Resources Chair Mary Nichols and California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister believe that SONGs replacement will be a challenge but doable in the timeframe required to maintain system reliability in the Southern California region. Keeping the lights on is of the highest importance to all concerned. 

During a roundtable discussion among stakeholders it was generally agreed that we are in a transition period of technology development where customers are taking more control over their energy use. This will test our ability to establish rational regulatory frameworks that maximize system benefits through new customer rate designs, more sensible energy procurement policies and technical improvements in the grid. In the future, power will need to flow in a multi-directional manner to take advantage of customer generation, electric vehicle battery charging, and demand response through time-of-use pricing. 

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