Tag Archives: Cpuc

CPUC Shines Spotlight on Solar Program Success

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has released its annual report to the California State Legislature on the progress of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program. The agency announced that consumer solar installations in California continued to increase in 2014, largely without rebate incentives, demonstrating that the state’s CSI program has substantially reached its goal of stimulating widespread adoption of solar energy and creating a self-sustaining market.

Highlights of the June 2015 California Solar Initiative Annual Program Assessment include:

  • Through the end of 2014, an estimated 2,529 MW of solar capacity has been installed on the customer side of the meter (including projects that didn’t receive CSI program incentives) at 302,266 customer sites in California.
  • In 2014, California installed a record 670 MW of customer-sited solar energy capacity, achieving a 31 percent annual growth from the capacity installed in 2013. The majority of these solar energy systems did not receive any CSI program rebates, as Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric are no longer offering residential rebates because they have either installed or reserved enough solar capacity to meet their residential CSI program goals.
  • Between the last quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2014, the average cost of installed residential systems has decreased 53 percent from $10.87 per watt to $5.14 per watt. In the same time period, non-residential system costs have decreased 62 percent from an average of $10.30 per watt to $3.93 per watt.
  • All but 254 MW, or 9 percent, of customer-sited solar energy systems interconnected into the grid in the large investor-owned utility territories are enrolled in Net Energy Metering.
  • To date, the CSI General Market program has installed 1,647 megawatts (MW), or 94 percent of its 1,750 MW goal, and will surpass its goal with another 258 MW waiting in pending projects.
  • The CSI Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program has completed a total of 4,499 projects, representing 13.6 MW of installed capacity. There are an additional 316 SASH projects in progress, with a total capacity of 1 MW.
  • The CSI Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program has completed 349 projects, representing 23.2 MW of installed capacity.  There are an additional 41 MASH projects in progress, with a total capacity of 6.3 MW.
  • In just over five years of operation, the CSI Thermal program has approved 2,585 applications for solar water heating systems, totaling $33.7 million in incentives of the available $205 million CSI Thermal incentive budget.
  • The CSI Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program has conducted five project solicitations since its inception, resulting in grant funding for 36 projects, totaling $44.4 million. Funded projects have focused on the following areas: integration of solar photovoltaics into the electricity grid; energy generation technologies and business development; and grid integration and production technologies.

Read full press release from the California Public Utilities Commission

 

 

California electricity prices to rise for those who use the least

By David R. Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle

Californians’ electricity rates are about to undergo their most sweeping changes since the state’s energy crisis 15 years ago, cutting costs for people who use large amounts of power while raising bills for more efficient homeowners. The question is, how many people will pay more?

The California Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote Friday on two competing proposals to radically revamp the way electricity rates work at the state’s big, investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Both proposals would narrow the gap between prices paid by people who use large amounts of electricity and those who use less. But one proposal, backed by the utilities, would go further than the other, raising utility bills at least $10 per month for an estimated 80 percent of residential customers next year as a result. It would also eventually allow the utilities to impose a fixed monthly charge on all customers, an idea the companies like but consumer advocates hate. The second proposal, from Commissioner Mike Florio, would boost monthly bills at least $10 for 35 percent of residential customers, and explicitly rejects fixed monthly charges.

The issue has been the subject of a fierce lobbying fight ever since 2013, when California legislators authorized the commission to reform electricity rates from top to bottom. Utilities, consumer groups, business associations and solar companies all entered the fray, each trying to tweak the details to their advantage. While arguing over how to fix it, most agreed the current system wouldn’t last.

No element of rate reform provoked a bigger fight than fixed charges. Utilities consider them a way to make sure everyone pays the cost of maintaining the electrical grid, at a time when an increasing number of homeowners are installing solar panels to generate their own electricity.

Read full article in the San Francisco Chronicle

How California plans to integrate distributed resources into its ISO market

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

A new era of grid operations is about to begin in California.

The state’s grid operator is preparing to offer aggregators of distributed energy resources (DERs) the opportunity to sell into its marketplace, the first in the nation to do so. DERs are the resources on the customer side or the distribution grid side of the electric system, such as rooftop solar, energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and demand response, and are typically below the 500 kW minimum size required to sell into the ISO system.

CAISO’s Final Plan

The “straw proposal,” an early draft of the ISO’s DERP initiative, was published last November to give stakeholders an opportunity to comment.  The final draft of the ISO’s plan answers many of the stakeholder concerns, with a focus on details of expanded metering and telemetry, the communications and counting methods, and the technologies the grid operator will need.

DER Aggregation

The ISO’s proposal provides a framework for the aggregation of DER to meet the ISO’s 0.5 MW minimum participation requirement and participate in ISO wholesale markets as an aggregated resource. The ISO proposes to classify a distributed energy resource provider or “DERP” as the owner/operator of one or more aggregations of individual distributed energy resources2 (DER) that participate in the ISO market as an aggregate resource rather than as individual resources.

Metering

In today’s California market, all of CAISO’s centralized generators have a resource identity (resource ID) and are required to have “revenue quality metering.” That can be via a direct interaction between the ISO and the resource ID, or it can be through a scheduling coordinator that mediates between the ISO and the resource ID. But for distributed resources, assigning a resource ID to each one is not feasible.

The proposal allows a scheduling coordinator to take administrative control of aggregated distributed energy accounts and meter them with any technology, including any online technology, that suits their purposes. The aggregator can be its own scheduling coordinator or can hire a third-party. A directly connected interface between the ISO and the aggregator is no longer required.

Locational dispersion and capacity of DERP aggregations

There are some 4,900 market pricing nodes (PNodes) on the ISO system. The system is also divided into load aggregation points (LAPs) that follow the territories of the state’s three investor-owned utilities. They are subdivided into sub-LAPs. With the issue of counting the DERPs clarified, the proposal takes up the question of how the ISO can keep track of the multiple sources and types and locations of DERs with which it will have to deal.

Under the new proposal, DERP aggregations may consist of one or more sub-resources at single or multiple locations. There can be multiple small resources across multiple PNodes, but they must be within one sub-LAP.  There is no minimum size limitation on the individual sub-resources in a DERP aggregation. This means that individual sub-resources may exceed the ISO’s minimum participation requirement of 0.5 MW. DERP aggregations across multiple PNodes may not exceed 20 MW, but for DERP aggregations limited to a single PNode, there is no MW size limitation.

Mixing DERs

For DERP aggregations limited to a single PNode, the sub-resources may be heterogeneous – that is, a mixture of sub-resource types is permitted, and there is no MW size limitation. It is not required that all of the sub-resources move in the same direction, only that the net movement of the aggregate of the sub-resources equate to the ISO dispatch instruction.

DERP aggregations across multiple PNodes may not exceed 20 MW. For DERP aggregations across multiple PNodes, all sub-resources within that sub-LAP must be homogenous and must move in the same direction as the ISO dispatch instruction. Homogenous aggregations are those in which all sub-resources are generation, energy storage acting together in charge or discharge only, or are load. For aggregations of energy storage, all sub-resources must be operating in the same mode (i.e., charging or discharging, but not a mix of the two) in response to an ISO dispatch.

The ISO performs network analyses to make certain the system is receiving what the market is selling into it. Sub-resources in an aggregation across multiple PNodes can cause distribution variability. But the PNode distribution variability must be minimized or “the congestion impacts estimated in the network analysis will be off.”  Until the ISO has enough operational experience to know whether the distribution variability would be a problem, it wants to limit DER aggregations “to those that move in the same direction as the ISO dispatch instruction.”

This is especially relevant to aggregated solar-plus-storage technologies that might be producing both load and generation, the final draft acknowledges. “The ISO recognizes that there is great interest in aggregating mixtures of rooftop solar, energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and demand response across multiple PNodes, without all the limitations required in this proposal. The ISO plans to examine such options in subsequent initiatives.”

Wait ‘Til Next Year

Several stakeholders suggested provisions be made for demand response (DR) in aggregations of distributed resources, but the ISO chose to limit its role, and does not include demand response participating as Proxy Demand Resource (PDR) or Reliability Demand Response Resource (RDRR) in the DERP proposal. In the proposal, the ISO clarifies that demand response participating as PDR or RDRR would continue to participate under its existing demand response framework and not under the DERP framework. The ISO says the existing PDR and RDRR framework already provides for market participation of aggregated demand response. This existing framework is designed to accommodate load reducing resources whose performance is assessed under a baseline methodology.

Stakeholders also suggested including in the DERP final proposal both the alternative baselines for PDR, and the alignment between distribution level interconnection and the ISO New Resource Implementation process. They are part of a separate energy storage initiative. These suggestions were declined. To facilitate bringing aggregated DERs into its marketplace, the ISO wants to include initially only those that can be directly metered under the specified terms.

The ISO will take formal comments on the final draft through June 24th. If approved by the Board in mid-July, the ISO will probably file by early autumn with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. That approval will require at least 60 days.

Read full article in Utility Dive

California Wants All New Homes to Be Net Zero in 2020

By Katherine Tweed, Greentech Media

California has moved one step closer to making one of its “big, bold energy-efficiency strategies” outlined seven years ago a reality.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have launched a residential Zero Net Energy Action Plan to build a self-sustaining market for all new homes to be net-zero energy by 2020.

“Zero Net Energy has been a vision for California for nearly 10 years, and with this industry-supported Action Plan, we are now ready to make that vision a reality with feasible, market-driven concepts to transform the new residential housing market,” CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman said in a statement.

Zero-net-energy buildings produce as much energy as they consume, usually through a mix of high efficiency and clean onsite generation. The definition requires that a home create as much energy as it uses over the course of an entire year, rather than on a real-time basis.

In California, homes consume nearly one-third of the energy used in the state. It’s not just single-family homes that California is trying to reinvent. The action plan also applies to multifamily homes of less than three stories and low-income housing.

While the prospect of being able to develop net-zero, or passive, homes is increasingly realistic due to falling prices for solar and the increased efficiency of many household appliances, it’s still not easy.

Read full article from Greentech Media

(TAGS: Zero-net-energy, passive homes)

Inside the Minds of Regulators: How Different States Are Dealing With Distributed Energy

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

With distributed generation steadily rising and creeping into new states, electricity regulators in each region of the U.S. are dealing with change very differently. Regulatory officials from California, Texas, Minnesota and Arizona discussed how they’re addressing some of the most pressing issues in their service territories this week at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, D.C.

California: California is the national leader in the deployment of solar PV, plug-in electric vehicles, grid-scale energy storage and home automation technologies. Today, about 20 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable energy, putting California on track to meet its 33 percent renewable energy target by 2020.

But while the Golden State continues to come up with new ways to promote and integrate advanced energy technologies, the focus will shift from renewables in the coming years, said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We’re moving away from a technology-based discussion to [a discussion of] grid values — what does the grid need, what do customers need?” he said. “And we will probably move away from a focus on renewables per se as a series of technologies, to a series of metrics on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Picker added that this shift away from individual technologies toward holistic grid solutions will reinforce a convergence between traditional electric utilities, the transportation industry, the natural gas industry and all types of distributed energy resources (DERs).

Read full article from Greentech Media

California’s Major Residential Rate Reform: The Solar-Friendly Alternative

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission proposed a new regime for how most of the state’s residential customers are charged for their electricity, including some major changes that could have a negative effect on the economics of rooftop solar power and household energy efficiency.

On Friday, CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio offered his own Alternate Proposed Decision (PDF) aimed at avoiding some of these effects, while still meeting the terms of the rate reforms called for by 2013 state law AB 327. In simple terms, Florio’s rate proposal does two things differently, both aligned with what most solar, efficiency and environmental groups have been asking for.

  • The first difference has to do with changes to California’s four-tier monthly rate structures, which can vary from about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour for the lowest tier to as high as 42 cents per kilowatt-hour for the highest tier. Last month’s proposal would allow the state’s big three utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, to move to a two-tier system with only a 20 percent difference between the top and bottom tiers. But Florio’s proposal would keep three tiers instead, and leave a wider 33 percent differential between the top and bottom rates.
  • The second big difference with Florio’s proposal has to do with minimum monthly charges on customers bills. Last month’s proposal would allow a minimum bill of up to $10 per month through 2019, and then allow a fixed charge to be imposed instead. Florio’s alternate proposal keeps the minimum bill, but rejects the idea that a fixed charge could ever take its place — a subtle yet important difference that can shore up the value of solar and efficiency for customers with smaller monthly bills.
  • Florio’s alternate proposal does keep one important idea from its predecessor proposal in place, however — the switch to time-of-use (TOU) rates. Both plans would require the state’s big three utilities to start TOU pilots by next year, and to file proposals by the end of 2017 to move to a default TOU rate structure by 2019.

This chart outlines the key differences between last month’s proposal and Florio’s alternate proposal.

Both proposals are set to be considered by commissioners at the CPUC’s June 25 meeting.

Read full article from Greentech Media