California ISO sees roadmap to smarter power grid

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Smart grid technologies such as demand response and energy efficiency are key elements of the state’s transition toward an ever more reliable electric power system.

This is according to the California Independent System Operator Corporation's “Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Roadmap: Maximizing Preferred Resources.”

In collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission as well as industry stakeholders, the California ISO unveiled its roadmap to advance demand response and energy efficiency.

It builds upon California’s policies enabling non-polluting distributed energy resources such as microgrids, rooftop solar, electric vehicles and energy storage facilities. The ISO envisions these resources contributing to the low-carbon, flexible capacity needed to maintain real-time system balance and reliability supporting the integration of renewable energy.

The roadmap anticipates the magnitude, type, timing and geographic distribution of newer, more flexible resources. It lays out the plan for lowering market barriers that currently prevent demand response and energy efficiency from competing alongside conventional resources.

The roadmap identifies four integrated pathways essential to bringing online a robust set of demand response and energy efficiency solutions over the next three years:

1) Load Reshaping Path that focuses on using incentives to modify consumption patterns to “flatten” demand, thus reducing the need for peaking generation capacity.

2) Resource Sufficiency Path that ensures enough resources with needed operational characteristics available at the right places and at the right times.

3) Operations Path that makes the best use of any and all resources (demand and supply) and involves the ISO changing some existing policies as well as modifying or developing new market products to expand DR market participation.

4) Monitoring Path that provides mechanisms for monitoring progress and outcomes to ensure that the initiatives accomplish their objectives on time.

Demand response and energy efficiency as well as other “preferred resources” play key roles in the joint agency Southern CA Reliability Plan that outlines the ideal resources to replace the now-retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station as well as backfill the potential loss of about 6,000 MW of aging coastal power plants. The units are at risk of retiring starting in 2017 to comply with new once-through cooling regulations limiting the use of ocean water to cool power plant turbines.

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