The California ISO continues to make progress to integrate the growing amounts of renewable energy resources. Working with stakeholders, we are building a cleaner grid and moving fast to meet a 50-percent renewable energy goal. The ISO system has successfully integrated more than 20,000 megawatts of renewable resources, making it one of the most robust low-carbon grids in the world.
It hasn’t been without trials, but being in the lead is rarely easy. We continue to navigate a series of uncharted new challenges, including periods in which we have bountiful supplies of clean energy, but lack the consumer demand to use it. These periods of surplus, carbon-free energy represent incredible opportunities, and we are working with policymakers and our customers to unlock those efficiencies to the benefit of business and residential consumers.
Summer has arrived, and California has already experienced its first heat wave of the year. With it comes higher demands for energy to run air conditioners and other infrastructure. The summer months can be challenging for grid operators, so the ISO uses a number of tools to keep supply and demand in balance during heat waves. Among them are "Flex Alerts," which we sometimes use to call for voluntary conservation from consumers when conditions warrant.
An historic solar eclipse is coming in August, and while scientists and amateur astronomers are making plans to watch the obscuration of the sun, the ISO is making preparations to manage the system to fill the gap from lower solar production.
Another important topic covered in this newsletter is the expansion of the western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), a real-time energy market that’s helping California and neighboring states to reduce costs while maximizing the use of available, clean energy. The EIM is now operational in multiple states across the West, recently adding the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Canada's Powerex Corp.
And finally, I hope you will take a moment to read about new features on the ISO's website, including a real-time view of renewable energy currently meeting consumer demand. We also published a new page that tracks greenhouse gas emissions, and another that depicts how our operators are managing periods of oversupply when solar power outshines demand.
I hope you find the following stories informative and invite you to visit our website at www.caiso.com or download our mobile app, ISO Today, for more energy-related topics.
Steve Berberich, President and CEO
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Get ready for summer; conserve and watch for Flex Alerts
Summer is here, which means heatwaves are in the weather forecast. During hot weather, it is important to conserve energy. When electricity demand is rising too fast and a Flex Alert is called, the ISO needs consumers’ help even more.
A Flex Alert is a call for consumers to conserve electricity during heatwaves or challenging grid conditions that make delivering electricity difficult. Flex Alerts are issued by the ISO and can be triggered due to high energy demand, unplanned power plant outages, hot weather and wildfires that down transmission lines.
If a Flex Alert is issued, keep the thermostat above 78 degrees and use fans whenever possible. Additionally, make sure to turn off all lights before leaving the house and postpone using major appliances until after 9 p.m.
Sign up to be notified of a Flex Alert at FlexAlert.org. Flex Alerts also are announced on ISO's Twitter @California_ISO, Facebook, and by downloading the ISO Today mobile app.
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ISO readies for August 2017 solar eclipse
On Monday, August 21, a solar eclipse will occur across the nation, with a total eclipse beginning in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. Northern California will experience a 76 percent eclipse while Southern California will experience a 62 percent obscuration of the sun, affecting California's vast solar resources supplying power to the grid.
The eclipse, expected to last from 9 a.m. to noon, will cause a drop in solar production, requiring the ISO to find more than 6,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity to make up the difference.
The ISO has been a leader in incorporating renewable energy in its energy grid. By August 21, the ISO expects to have close to 10,000 MW of commercial solar to serve demand. Additionally, the California Energy Commission estimates there will be 5,800 MW of rooftop solar serving households by the date of the eclipse.
The ISO began planning for the eclipse more than a year ago. Our forecasting team has consulted with grid operators involved with the 2015 European total solar eclipse, coordinated with utilities and generators for additional energy to make up the gap, and reviewed market mechanisms that will help manage sudden increases in demand.
Click here for more information on how the eclipse may impact the grid, how the ISO is planning for the event, and links to other reputable science websites.
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Western EIM adds LADWP and Canada's Powerex
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) and Powerex Corp. of Canada have agreed to join the ISO's real-time western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).
LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the United States and is expected to be operational in the EIM beginning in April 2019. Powerex is a wholly owned energy marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro, Canada’s third largest utility, and will be the first non-U.S. participant. Powerex is scheduled to begin participation next April.
The EIM allows utilities to realize benefits by finding lowest-cost power resources across a larger geographic region. Participating utilities have saved about $173 million in generating and delivering energy since its launch in November 2014, with $31 million in benefits posted in the first quarter of 2017 alone.
Besides saving costs, the market has helped reduce carbon emission by maximizing the use of available clean, renewable energy. More cost benefits and carbon reductions are expected as more utilities participate.
Current participants include four utilities – Pacificorp of Oregon, Nevada’s NV Energy, Puget Sound Energy of Washington, and Arizona Public Service of Phoenix, Ariz. In addition to LADWP and Powerex, other utilities scheduled to begin participation include Portland General Electric, Idaho Power, Seattle City Light, Balancing Authority of Northern California/Sacramento Municipal Utilities District and Phoenix-based Salt River Project.
A western EIM website is set for launch on July 10, with all the information about the market in one place, including stakeholder initiatives, upcoming meetings, and the process for joining. At that time, visitors to the EIM pages on caiso.com will be redirected to the new website.
The see the EIM's quarterly benefits reports, click here.
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Join the ISO for its 2017 Stakeholder Symposium
Registration for the California Independent System Operator's 2017 Stakeholder Symposium is now open. Join us on October 18-19 at the Sacramento Convention Center to explore the revolutionary changes facing electric systems worldwide. The annual symposium brings together leaders from utilities, the energy industry, regulators and policy makers to discuss the impacts of the clean energy movement and the new business models that flow from it.
To register for the symposium, click here.
Applications for the Technology Showcase are open now until July 31. To apply as an exhibitor, click here.
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New tools and pages enhance the ISO website
The ISO's website, www.caiso.com, now sports some additions and revamps, such as a real-time display of percentage of renewables serving load, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) tracking, information on managing oversupply conditions, and a frequently updated Key Topics section on the home page.
California set a peak in the use of renewable energy on May 13 when 67 percent of demand was served by renewable resources. Visitors to the ISO's website can now follow that percentage in real time by going to Today's Outlook and navigating to the Renewables section. Also on this page is current wind and solar production data in megawatts, as well as current total renewables.
The ISO now publishes monthly GHG tracking reports reflecting total GHG emissions serving the ISO load. These reports can be found on the Clean, Green Grid webpage.
In April, the ISO launched a new Managing Oversupply webpage that helps explain how the grid handles periods of oversupply, which typically happens when solar production outpaces the demand for electricity. The ISO market automatically reduces the production of energy from renewable resources to make sure supply and demand remain balanced. On this webpage, visitors can find wind and solar daily curtailment reports and solutions being explored to minimize oversupply and curtailment.
As reported above, a solar eclipse is expected in the U.S. on August 21. Click here to learn how the eclipse may impact the grid, how the ISO is planning for the event, and links to other reputable science websites.
Lastly, the ISO is continuously updating our Key Topics section to keep readers up to date with the most current and interesting ISO projects. On this page, readers will find ISO’s most high-level action plans, industry reports, breaking news, information about workshops and links to new ISO webpages.
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