SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission, in its ongoing efforts to help ensure reliable electric service to Californians, ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric to immediately contract for energy resources that can be online in time to serve peak and net peak demand this summer.
Thursday’s decision is the most recent step in a series of actions the CPUC is taking in an expedited proceeding it opened in response to the rotating outages experienced in August 2020. The proceeding is focused on ensuring that enough demand-side and supply-side resources are procured for the state to maintain electricity reliability for consumers if climate change-driven extreme weather events experienced in the Summer and fall of 2020 re-occur in 2021.
The decision focuses on the utility procurement of new generation resources. The CPUC is scheduled to release a separate decision in early March focused mainly on increasing the amount of “demand-side resources.” Demand-side resources, such as demand response, are a critical element of the CPUC’s plan to help ensure reliability, by helping reduce demand at peak times this summer and in 2022.
“Californians expect and deserve reliable electricity service, especially during these times when families are sheltering, working, and learning from home,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer. “Today’s Decision represents our commitment to ensure this essential service as we prepare for potential extreme weather events this summer.”
“This decision highlights the complexities of planning for a reliable grid, overlayed with the realities that accelerated climate change has brought new challenges. As we face these challenges, we must keep making progress on our clean energy mandates to avoid harsher climate change in our future,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.
In mid-August 2020, the western U.S. experienced an unprecedented, prolonged heatwave that ultimately required the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to initiate rotating power outages to prevent sustained, wide-spread service interruptions. On January 13, 2021, the CPUC, CAISO, and California Energy Commission issued a final Root Cause Analysis on the August rotating outages, which outlined short-term and longer-term actions to mitigate electricity shortages and ensure delivery of clean, reliable, and affordable energy. Among the recommended actions is expediting the regulatory and procurement processes to develop additional resources that can be online by 2021 and ensuring that the generation and storage projects that are currently under construction in California are completed by their targeted online dates.
The expedited proceeding the CPUC opened in November 2020 will develop additional demand- and supply-side resources that can be available by 2021.