2005 CMTA Energy Conference Wrap Up

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 5, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Another successful conference tackles California’s most critical energy issues

On July 27-29, leaders from the energy industry, legislature, and state and federal energy agencies joined members of California’s manufacturing community at the 2005 CMTA Energy Conference in beautiful South Lake Tahoe.

The conference titled "Energy Markets: Are Manufacturers Making Progress or Losing Ground?" showcased current proposals to resolve California’s most critical energy issues. Yakout Mansour, the new President and CEO of the Independent System Operator, gave a keynote speech focusing on the major reorganization and downsizing being undertaken at the ISO to improve effectiveness and provide the highest value to customers.

The conference included panels on infrastructure, renewables policies, natural gas, utility rates and wholesale market operations. David Ashuckian, California Energy Commission, warned that while there should be adequate resources to meet the energy demand of California this year, it’s critical that we look at adding more transmission and new generation to keep pace with the demand in the future. He described the five areas of the state most congested and in need of investment, including portions of the Bay Area, Southern California and San Diego.

V. John White, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, argued that obtaining electricity from renewable energy is cost effective, good for the environment and would lower the trade deficit.  Richard Brent of Solar Turbines reminded everyone about the huge environmental and grid benefits that could be enjoyed through new combined heat and power systems located in load centers.

Marwan Masri, representing the California Energy Commission, gave details of the Commission’s Renewable Energy Program, which calls for the need to facilitate a self-sustaining renewables program as well as encourage the development of new and emerging renewable industries.

Tom Bottorff of Pacific Gas and Electric and Akbar Jazayeri of Southern California Edison discussed the outlook for rates for industrial customers.  High natural gas prices are a major component of utility costs that must be passed along to customers.  Norm Pedersen, Hanna and Morton, LLP reiterated the benefits of liquefied natural gas and how we need to increase supply, which will in turn help stabilize gas prices and electricity rates.

Carolyn Kehrein, Energy Management Services, focused on wholesale market operations, specifically Market Redesign and Technology Upgrade (MRTU).  The proposal, to be submitted this November to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), would gain economic and technical efficiencies through: 1) market improvements to assure grid reliability and more efficient and cost effective use of resources; and 2) technology upgrades to strengthen the entire ISO computer backbone.

Friday’s lineup of state policymakers generally agreed that the state must continue to make steady progress to improve the investment climate in California for new generation and infrastructure. Senator Debra Bowen, a member of the Senate Energy Committee, expressed disappointment that the state is not also aggressively pursuing proven, cost-effective load shifting and conservation campaigns that worked so well to reduce peak demand during the crisis of 2000-2001.

Conference attendees were also introduced to the newest members of the California Public Utilities Commission, Dian Grueneich and John Bohn.  Both emphasized the need for rational energy policy to support the California economy.  

Comments about the conference from attendees and speakers were resoundingly positive.  Most appreciated was the deep content, robust discussion and even humor provided by speakers such as Art O’Donnell, past editor of California Energy Markets.  He reflected that the current complex of political, technical and economic forces in energy policy development could be attributed to astrological influences from the planet Mars, now in "retrograde" motion, giving it the appearance of backward motion, while, in fact, the planet is continuing on it’s forward path.

We look forward to another successful conference next year, July 26-28, at Harveys at South Lake Tahoe.  Mark your calendars!

To view presentations submitted for the conference on powerpoint slides, click here.
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