Tag Archives: Sce

Inside Southern California Edison’s energy storage strategy

By Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

Last winter, Southern California Edison (SCE) sent the U.S. energy storage sector into a frenzy with a single announcement: It would purchase over 250 MW of energy storage in one fell swoop — more than five times the amount California regulators required it to do at the time, and easily the biggest single storage procurement to date.

That purchase was brought on by a landmark mandate from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Passed in 2013, the order requires the state’s three big investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to put 1.3 GW of storage on the grid by the end of the decade.

As a first step in that process, the regulators stipulated that the IOUs had to contract for 50 MW of storage by the end of 2014. But as a part of a larger request for proposals, SCE elected to contract for 264 MW of diverse energy storage technologies, including utility-scale batteries, behind-the-meter resources, and non-battery storage alternatives. That giant storage procurement puts the company in uncharted territory for an American utility, forcing it to grapple with valuation and operational issues involving storage that other power companies have only imagined.

Nearly one year on from that historic proposal, what has SCE learned about storage—and what is its outlook for the future? Utility Dive spoke with SCE President Pedro Pizarro to find out…

Read full article from Utility Dive

Palm Springs to save $25 million by going solar

By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun

Palm Springs expects to save nearly $25 million over the next 25 years by installing solar panels at eight sites around the city, including the convention center and the downtown parking structure.

The city has entered into final contract negotiations with two national solar companies: SolarCity and SunEdison. SunEdison will install solar panels at the convention center, the downtown parking structure, and several other civic buildings and city parks. SolarCity will tackle installations at the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the Sunrise Plaza complex. The city expects all eight systems to come online by the end of 2016.

City staff estimates Palm Springs will save nearly $33.8 million over the next 25 years on its electricity bills, while spending about $9 million to install the panels and pay off the solar firms over time. The city will pay just $3.2 million in up-front costs, with some of that money covered by grants from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  The city could save an additional $1.2 million if money from California’s solar rebate program comes through as expected.

Read full article in the Desert Sun

Drought Is Killing California’s Hydroelectric Power. Can Solar Make Up The Difference?

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Snowmelt entering Big Creek’s hydroelectric powerhouses has slowed to a trickle. Reservoirs sit at their lowest levels ever.

The 102-year-old central-California complex owned and operated by Southern California Edison lost 80 percent of its hydroelectric power this year, a direct result of a persistent drought that has wiped clean the Sierra Nevada snowpack and produced an eerie silence inside Big Creek’s 27 damns and nine powerhouses.

“This is definitely the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew McMillan, operations manager for Edison’s massive hydro plant, a historic project situated between Yosemite and King’s Canyon financed by Henry Huntington in 1913 to send power to his Pacific Electric Red Cars.

Knowing droughts can hang around for years, even decades, Edison managed the water to keep some generators humming during peak summer demand, McMillan said. SCE then added new solar and wind power to replace the 800 megawatts of hydroelectric evaporated by the drought, said Colin Cushnie, SCE’s vice president of energy procurement and management.

Statewide, the pattern is repeated, only on a grander scale. The California Independent Systems Operator, which monitors 80 percent of the state electric grid, says California is approaching the largest reduction in hydroelectricity in 10 years.

Read full article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

California’s Solar Industry Fights Back on Net Metering 2.0

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

California’s biggest utilities want future net-metered rooftop solar systems to earn less for the energy they feed to the grid and solar customers to pay extra charges to cover the costs of serving them grid power.  California’s solar industry has a different idea: keep things the way they are — and don’t believe utilities when they say they and their non-solar customers can’t afford it.

In filings this week, key solar groups The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar have asked the California Public Utilities Commission to retain key features of the state’s net metering regime, including full retail payments for the power that rooftop solar systems feed back to the grid. That’s in stark contrast to proposals from the state’s three large investor-owned utilities, which ask the CPUC to lower payments, impose new charges, and make other changes that would reduce the economic payback of future net-metered solar systems. Utilities say that today’s net-metering regime unfairly slants compensation toward rooftop solar and will impose billions of dollars of cost shifts to non-solar customers if not changed.

Read full article from Greentech Media

Southern California Edison To Buy Solar Energy From Borrego PV Projects

Southern California Edison (SCE) has signed power purchase agreements (PPA) with Borrego Solar Systems for the electricity generated from rooftop wholesale distributed generation (WDG) projects.

Under the five 20-year PPAs, SCE will purchase 10MW solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity from the WDG projects which Borrego Solar plans to build. The systems will be located on industrial warehouse buildings in Southern California.

These projects are part of SCE’s fourth solicitation under the Solar Photovoltaic Program (SPVP) for Independent Power Producers, a five-year program to procure 125 MW of primarily rooftop PV projects. These new PPAs will bring Borrego Solar’s total participation in the program to nine projects totaling 17 MW. Once fully operational, the Borrego Solar portfolio will generate enough energy to power approximately 3,672 homes.

Read full article from Energy Business Review

Inside California’s rate restructuring plan and the battle for fixed charges looming over it

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

California regulators united behind a new rate framework before the Independence Day holiday, but lurking behind the decision is a bigger one for utilities and renewables advocates alike.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously on July 3 to flatten the current four-tiered electricity rate system to two tiers, push for time-of-use (TOU) rates by 2019, and make other noteworthy changes to how utilities bill customers. California’s investor owned utilities, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), hailed it as a step toward making rates fair. The state’s utility watchdog condemned the decision, the ratepayer advocate is concerned about it, and solar advocates are studying it warily. All recognize a decision on fixed monthly charges was deferred.

Reaction from utilities: SDG&E

SDG&E Spokesperson Amber Albrecht:

  • “We were hoping for more immediate relief but we are on the right path. This new rate structure inserts more fairness and transparency into electric utility bills,” and “brings rates more in line with the true cost of service.” The new rate design will not take away customers’ incentive to be more efficient about their electricity consumption.
  • SDG&E tier 3 and 4 customers now pay “136% more than those in the lowest tier” and those in the lowest tier “pay 15% less than the cost of the basic delivery of electricity.” With the new two tier plan, the higher users’ bills will come down while the lower users’ monthly bills will likely edge up to around $2 to $5.
  • In 2017, the SUE will go into effect; it is expected to be levied on about 2% of SDG&E customers. “Each IOU’s rates will be slightly different but the basic pattern will be the same.”
  • “This is the first step in a broader discussion about the modern electricity bill. Now we know what the framework will be. Moving forward, the CPUC will have a number of proceedings and make a number of decisions on things like net energy metering.”

Reaction from utilities: Southern California Edison

SCE Director of Pricing Design Russ Garwacki:

  • “Our estimates find the high usage customers are paying $600 million in subsidies per year to low usage customers. Even when fully implemented in 2019, there will still be significant subsidies left in the rate structure but this does provide relief.” The new plan corrects an overpayment by higher usage customers without asking lower usage customers to subsidize them.
  • Incentives for conservation and solar: The new rate design will not take away customers’ incentive to be more efficient about their electricity consumption. Lower rates for tier 2 customers will reduce their incentive to be more efficient, but higher rates for tier 1 customers provide them with an incentive to conserve. “There is a point-counterpoint. And that extends to the incentive to go solar. Because the tiers are flattened and the rates are more closely tied to cost, more middle usage customers will consider solar. A recent CPUC energy division report found solar adoption is higher under flatter tiers.”
  • Minimum bill/fixed charges: The decision “was a compromise and balancing of a large number of issues,”—the minimum bill is an example. It is not, as characterized, a replacement for a fixed charge. The commission decided to deal with the fixed charge in 2019, but the implication of the minimum bill is that even the lowest usage customers should pay “some fair share” for the distribution system. “They viewed the minimum bill as a first step toward fixed charges. That is not what we asked for but it is a step in the right direction.”
  • TOU rates: Rates follow cost with a TOU structure and it is important to provide that cost signal for residential customers. SCE just completed transitioning all its non-residential customers to TOU rates. Studies are beginning to demonstrate that, over time, usage shifts and the load profile flattens in response to them. SCE wanted an opt-in to TOU rates, but the commission disagreed.

Reaction: Solar Industry

  • Solar Energy Industries Association: “Most importantly, we’re glad to see that the commission has not adopted fixed charges – and recognized that there’s no evidence to justify them. These rates are workable, although we believe a greater tier differential would more appropriately reflect the costs of high energy users.” The flattened tiers “should significantly mitigate any concerns the utilities have about cost shifts among ratepayers.”
  • Solar Electric Power Association: “This decision is an important part of the process to incorporate more distributed resources into the system.” But rate design “needs to be articulated as part of a broader conversation on the utility business models.”
  • SolarCity: “The proposed decision achieves the utilities’ goal of flattening the tiers while also making the entire rate system more equitable for ratepayers. If net metering remains in place, this decision will continue to allow Californians to go solar.”

Read full article from Utility Dive

Inside SoCal Edison’s Plan to Open Its Grid to Distributed Energy

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

Two years ago, California told its three big investor-owned utilities to do something they’ve never done before — make distributed energy resources (DERs for short) a fundamental part of their billion-dollar distribution grid investment plans.

Under state law AB 327, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric were tasked with finding a way to integrate solar PV, behind-the-meter batteries, electric vehicle chargers, building energy management systems, and other distributed energy resources into a new set of distribution resource plans (DRPs). The DRP planning process has been the subject of much debate and scrutiny over the past year, because they have profound implications for how rooftop PV installers, energy storage developers, demand response providers and other third-party DER companies will do business in the state.

Now, with Wednesday’s deadline for utilities to file their plans with the CPUC, the wait is over — and we’ve got details on how one utility is putting its grid-edge plan together. This week, Southern California Edison shared some fundamental features of its DRP, including some new software tools and methodologies to assess distribution grid capacity, the way it plans to assess the costs and benefits of DERs for its upcoming rate case, and new pilot projects to test these propositions in the real world.

Read full article from Greentech Media

SCE Continues Encouraging Solar Development

Southern California Edison (SCE) this week issued a press release that describes the utility’s ongoing efforts to encourage and support the development and interconnection of solar projects within its service territory.

According to the release, SCE has about 125,000 rooftop solar systems installed in its territory, totaling more than 1,000 megawatts. Those systems include residential and non-residential installations, as well as some utility-owned projects. Nearly 600 megawatts are from residential projects.

Adding to those totals, SCE also recently announced that the California Public Utilities Commission has approved 22 projects totaling 42.6 megawatts of direct current power from the utility’s fourth solicitation to obtain electricity from independent power producers as part of its Solar Photovoltaic Program (SPVP).

Read the full press release from Southern California Edison