- To integrate higher penetrations of renewables, the California Public Utilities Commission has established its first flexible capacity requirement for load serving entities (LSEs), closely echoing the flexible-resource-adequacy-criteria-must-offer-obligation (FRAC-MOO) proposal by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) which currently awaits approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
- Though California now has some 30,000 megawatts of flexible capacity and its system operator only needs about 11,000 megawatts, the agencies’ actions clearly anticipate higher renewables penetration as the state works to replace the shuttered San Onofre nuclear facitity and prepares for the retirement of 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts of once-through cooling (OTC) plant capacity.
- The ISO expects the variable renewables supply to increase from 2014’s 13,250 megawatts to 14,800 megawatts in 2015 and to 15,700 megawatts in 2016, largely from new solar generation.
The new flexible capacity requirement clearly reflects the broadly remembered promise from Governor Jerry Brown that the state’s 33% renewables by 2020 mandate is “a floor, not a ceiling.”
With the California drought driving the state’s reservoirs to below 50% capacity, the ISO has already been forced to use more variable renewables due to the diminishing hydroelectric resource.
The PUC will put off resolving the differences between its new flexible capacity requirement and the ISO’s FRAC-MOO until 2015.
The CPUC’s action also instituted local capacity procurement obligations for 2015 close to those of the ISO at about 26,345 megawatts, about 1,000 megawatts, or 3.5%, below the 2014 obligation.
"Flexible capacity need," according to the CPUC, is the amount of resources needed by the ISO to sustain grid reliability, either by maintaining or increasing output, or reducing ramping needs, during the greatest three-hour continuous ramp in each month.