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New series of reports finds
Next 10 Launches Series of Five Briefs on the California Grid
California's grid is facing an era of rapid change as access to renewable energy grows. With the state legislature currently debating a number bills that could shape the future of our energy system, Next 10 has released a series of five briefs examining key issues facing the California grid.The first in the series provides an overview of the state's energy system and shifting trends, and the second takes a fresh look at the pros and cons of creating a Western regional grid. Grid regionalization could change how and where renewables are built, bought and sold, with ramifications for energy markets in California and across the West. The remaining three briefs in the series take a deep dive into how the grid might be challenged or helped by the rise of electric vehicles; the increase in distributed energy resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar panels; and the growth of community choice aggregation (CCA), which allows cities and counties to join together to purchase electricity on behalf of their community members.Ultimately, these rapidly advancing energy technologies could provide benefits to the power system, but the state will have to work to shape regulations that optimize benefits while reducing risks. Learn more about the full series below.
In the Media:
- California's huge energy decision: link its grid to its neighbors, or stay autonomous? (Vox, July 31, 2018)
- New Report Highlights the Benefits and Drawbacks of Regionalizing California's Grid (Greentech Media, July 19, 2018)
- Western RTO could save California $1.5b per year by 2030, report says (Utility Dive, July 23, 2018)
- Study: Jump in electric vehicles may not stress California's power grid (Green Car Reports, August 2, 2018)
- Community Choice is Driving California's Precocious Energy Revolution (Forbes, August 2, 2018)
- Report: Alternative Energy Program Could Help State's Utilities Meet Renewable Goals 10 Years Early (KPBS, August 2, 2018)
This brief, the first in the series and authored by Bentham Paulos of PaulosAnalysis, explains how the state's power system and grid work, lays out environmental and social issues, and provides visions of the future as the grid evolves in concert with economic and environmental trends. It acts as a primer on the California grid.
This brief, also authored by energy analyst Bentham Paulos, lays out the arguments for and against expanding the western electricity market through the formation of a regional independent system operator (ISO). Supporters say setting up a vast regional market would accelerate the scale-up of clean energy while reducing operating costs, enabling California to meet its climate goals even as energy bills come down. Detractors say that a Western RTO could reduce the state's control over clean energy and climate policies and shift construction jobs to other states.
Electrifying transportation is a key pathway for California's clean energy strategy. This brief, authored by Anand R. Gopal and Julia Szinai of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, finds that the California grid is well positioned to handle rapid growth in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) but advance planning and smart policy can ease the transition for the state's power system. Energy demand is only modestly increasing as PEV sales surge, and while the growth of EVs in California will require upgrades to the energy system, the costs are likely to be low compared to the benefits. Further, managed charging could help with one key challenge of an increasingly renewables-heavy energy supply: avoiding curtailment. By 2030, managed EV charging could reduce annual renewable curtailment by up to 50 percent annually.
Distributed energy resources are small technologies—including rooftop solar, energy storage, microgrids, load control, energy efficiency, and communication and control technologies—that produce, store, manage, and reduce the use of energy. This brief, by Bentham Paulos of PaulosAnalysis, finds that California is a leader in both DER deployment and policy. Ninety percent of the nation's small-scale energy storage and nearly half of all U.S. large-scale storage is in California. There are also over 800,000 customers with rooftop solar systems, totaling over 6,500 MW of capacity. While DER utilization continues to grow in the state, the brief finds that California should be focusing on increased demand response, one of the several DERs analyzed.
County and city governments administer CCAs as local alternatives to investor-owned utilities (IOUs). Since 2010, CCAs have been forming at a rapid rate, with over half of them starting within the last two years. This brief, authored by JR DeShazo, Julien Gattaciecca, and Kelly Trumbull of UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation, finds that the rise of CCAs has had both direct and indirect positive effects on overall renewable energy consumed in California, helping contribute to the state meeting its 2030 RPS targets approximately ten years in advance. Currently, CCAs are offering customers electricity with renewable energy content ranging from 37 percent to 100 percent, with an average of 52 percent, compared to the 32 to 44 percent renewable range offered by IOUs.