Bill to California governor would direct utilities to plan storage, DERs for peak demand
- California utilities would have to consider how energy storage, efficiency and distributed resources can help meet peak electricity under a new bill passed by lawmakers last week.
- The California Senate voted 27 to 13 on Sept. 6 to approve SB 338, sending the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for approval. The Assembly passed the bill in late August.
- The bill would require utilities to develop carbon-free alternatives to gas generation for meeting peak demand in their integrated resource plans. The state is currently evaluating how to manage midday solar overgeneration and a steep ramp in evening power demand while meeting ambitious climate change goals.
California utilities would have to consider how to combat the solar "duck curve" with carbon-free resources under a bill sent to Gov. Brown last week.
SB 338, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D), would compel utilities to evaluate how storage and DERs can meet power needs "while reducing the need for new electricity generation and new transmission in achieving the state’s energy goals."
At present, California routinely experiences hours of plentiful solar generation at midday followed by a steep increase in evening power demand nicknamed the "duck curve" for the shape of its load chart.
Today, that evening ramp is mostly served by natural gas generators, but California utilities are under a mandate to cut carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and clean energy advocates say solar and storage can meet local power needs at a lower cost.
Skinner's bill is one of two proposed earlier this year pushing utilities to use more of that renewable energy during peak demand hours. If it becomes law, utilities would have to alter their IRP processes to evaluate "the role of existing renewable generation, grid operational efficiencies, energy storage, and distributed energy resources, including energy efficiency" to meet the hours of peak demand.
The bill is less prescriptive its former Assembly counterpart — AB 1405 — which would have required California utility regulators to set a certain percentage of power generation during peak hours that must come from renewable sources or efficiency. That bill appears to have been amended substantially to consider digital signs on state highways, not energy policy.
The bills build upon a proposal in Arizona called the Clean Peak Standard that would alter the state's renewable energy mandate to mandate a certain percentage of carbon-free power be delivered during peak hours. That proposal is currently on hold as the state considers other changes to renewable energy policy.
- California Legislature SENATE BILL No. 338
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