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Utility Dive: California Mulls 11.5 GW Procurement Package to Bolster Grid After Diablo Canyon, Natural Gas Plants Retire

Posted by Kavya Balaraman on May 25, 2021

Utility Dive summarized two CPUC grid proposals, quoting AEE's Noah Garcia on the state's power procurement. Read snippets below and the full article here.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has prepared two proposals for regulators to choose from to address the state's challenge of maintaining a reliable power grid after the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and a suite of natural gas facilities are retired in the coming years.

Both proposals would direct electricity providers, including utilities, to collectively procure 11,500 MW of resources that can come online between 2023 and 2026. But while one proposal allows utilities to include up to 1,500 MW of incremental capacity from fossil fuel resources in that package, the second would cap that at 500 MW… 

California's power sector is grappling with both short-term and longer-term grid reliability challenges, and regulators have been issuing a suite of decisions to tackle them. In recent months, the CPUC has approved two decisions aimed at preventing a repeat of the rolling blackouts that the state's grid operator was forced to initiate last year — one instructing utilities to contract additional capacity, and a second rolling out a series of demand-side measures as well as requiring a procurement of up to 1,500 MW for the next two years…

The CPUC's new proposals are looking to solve this larger problem. Both proposed decisions — one from Administrative Law Judge Julie Fitch and the other from Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen — require load-serving entities to procure at least 11,500 MW of capacity in the next few years, divided into the following increments: 3,000 MW by 2023, 4,500 MW by 2024, 2,000 MW by 2025 and another 2,000 MW by 2026. Half of the last procurement package will need to come from long-duration storage and half some other kind of firm or dispatchable zero-emission resources, defined as having a minimum 85% capacity factor or between 17 and 22 hours of duration. 

"It's a really staggering number — when you think of how California has done procurement in the past, it's certainly a significant ramp up," Noah Garcia, principal with Advanced Energy Economy, said. 

At the same time, the proposed procurement tries to align with the recent report from California energy agencies that takes a closer look at getting the state to 100% renewable and zero-carbon electricity by 2045, according to Garcia. The report "essentially says we need to be building out renewables and storage at a really unprecedented clip," he added.

Read the full story here.

Topics: AEE In The News