CAISO President to speak at international climate change conference

By ISO Staff |

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) will be represented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that began yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland, with Elliot Mainzer, the ISO’s president and CEO, participating in a panel discussion on technological advances needed to decarbonize electric grids around the world.

Mainzer will be talking specifically about how the ISO is helping to shape the research agenda of the Global Power System Transformation Consortium (G-PST). The G-PST is an international group of system operators, research and technical institutions, government agencies, and stakeholders that have come together to ensure that electrical grids have the technological advances necessary to efficiently run carbon-free power systems.

The California ISO is one of six system operators internationally that are founding members of the G-PST. The climate change conference provides an excellent opportunity to draw attention on a global stage to some of the crucial technological challenges grid operators face and the solutions they are developing, as power systems continue to shift from fossil fuels to carbon-free resources, such as solar, wind and battery power.

“Our work with the G-PST is extremely valuable, because it enables the California ISO to play a key role in shaping the international research agenda that will help enable grid operators around the world to reach decarbonization objectives over the next two decades,” Mainzer said. “With so much of the world watching what takes place in Glasgow over the next two weeks, I am looking forward to helping elevate this issue to a very broad global audience. I am honored to have the chance to participate and to represent our organization.”

The California ISO has been a member of the G-PST since its launch two years ago with other system operators from the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Texas and Denmark. Mainzer was invited to give a brief overview of California’s progress on integrating renewables and the role he sees the consortium research playing in California’s ongoing work to decarbonize its electrical grid.

The climate conference, known as COP26 to signify the United Nation’s 26th annual “Conference of the Parties,” began Sunday and lasts until Friday, Nov. 12. The conference generates extensive international media coverage and is attended by tens of thousands of diplomats, climate experts, global leaders and activists from nearly 220 countries working to get nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. An editorial in the Financial Times of London this week called the COP26 summit “a pivotal moment for the planet,” as the impacts of climate change have been exacting a greater toll around the world. This year’s conference has also taken on greater importance because the 2020 version was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joe Biden, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other U.S. officials are attending the conference in Glasgow. Some other leaders, including China President Xi Jinping, are reportedly attending via video link.

California Governor Gavin Newsom had planned to lead a California delegation to attend in person, but his office announced last week that he now will attend virtually.

Mainzer, also appearing virtually, is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Thursday, Nov. 4 entitled “Unlocking Grids to Decarbonize Power Systems Globally with the G-PST Consortium.”

Because of the time difference between California and Europe, the panel discussion is scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. It will be livestreamed here, and is also expected to be archived for viewing at a more convenient hour.

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