- The California ISO identified eight trends shaping the power sector in a new paper released Wednesday. Those trends include energy efficiency, decline of gas-fired generation, growth of wind and solar, and decarbonization. The grid operator called for a reduction in fossil-fuel use and a focus on regulatory policy to use clean energy resources to base operations.
- The dynamics driving these trends in the CAISO region are a transition to clean energy, decentralizing electric service, and regionalizing resources across the western United States.
- The trends come out of California's ambitious renewable energy and climate efforts as state utilities and the grid operator grapple with ways to incorporate these targets into resource planning, wholesale markets and grid modernization efforts.
CAISO's report is a fairly comprehensive list of trends shaping its operations and the state's power mix. Most of these trends will not surprise power sector experts; for the past few years, utility executives and analysts pointed to decarbonization and energy efficiency, for example, as top trends shaping the industry.
The grid operator goes further and identifies necessary steps to achieve some of California's steep emissions and renewable energy goals. At least 50% of utilities' power mixes must come from renewable energy, and state polices target an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In addition, the grid operator noted that power generation is increasingly becoming localized, as more Californians invest in distributed energy resources like rooftop solar arrays. To handle these changes, CAISO also mapped out eight strategies, including reorienting regulatory policy that would allow systems to operate using non-fossil fuel resources, exploring avenues to share these resources across the West, and developing policies and programs to include transportation (e.g. electric vehicles) and building energy usage into electric service.
"Meeting current policy goals requires significant changes in regulatory policies and commercial practices," CAISO wrote in the report. "Without a shared understanding of the challenges involved, there is real risk that investment can be misdirected, assets stranded and major opportunities frustrated or lost."