Author Archives: Larissa Koehler

Varied Resource Portfolios to Clean up California’s Grid

If music has taught us nothing else, it is that more is better. Three Dog Night taught us that “one is the loneliest number,” the Beatles taught us that we need help from our friends to get by, and Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock reminded us that “it takes two to make a thing go right.”

Those lyrics apply just as easily to our electric grid. That’s because on the grid, it is best to have a bigger, varied group of resources.

Through the Integrated Resource Plan proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission is requiring California’s big three utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric – to create energy portfolios that are balanced, cost-effective, and position the utilities to meet state climate and energy targets. This was codified in SB 350 (De León), which required the Commission and utilities to develop these integrated resource plans (IRPs). Accordingly, the Commission has set forth the following specifications: Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy| Comments are closed

New California Demand Response Decision Comes Equipped with BUG Repellent

engineer-with-controls_rfIf you are anything like the typical Californian, you likely took the opportunity to get outside this summer and explore the great outdoors. Chances are you also took plenty of insect repellent to avoid becoming the latest offering at the mosquito buffet. Here in the Golden State, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is also fighting off BUGs – lest you think the CPUC is branching out into new regulatory territory, they are targeting the kind that harm our environment and public health: back-up generators (BUGs) that run on fossil fuels.

State regulators recently issued a proposed decision to end the use of fossil-fueled BUGs as a form of demand response – a clean energy tool intended to reward people who reduce their electricity use during periods of peak demand, or shift it to times of day when clean, renewable energy is abundant. Unfortunately, dirty, fossil-fueled generators are sometimes used to reduce demand from the electric grid during demand response events, but this does not help California meet its aggressive climate or clean energy goals.

Demand response programs should encourage people, buildings, and companies to use energy in a way that reduces the state’s need to make electricity from polluting sources. That’s why the CPUC’s recent proposal is a huge, positive step forward. However, there are also some changes that could make these advancements even more impactful.

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Posted in California, Demand Response| Comments are closed

California Shows the Nation How to Pave the Way for More Clean Cars

EVCarCalvin Bryne co-authored this post.

As with other environmental policies, California leads the nation in encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption. The state has made huge strides in promoting cleaner cars, and opportunities remain to fully tap the benefits of this clean energy resource.

California as a model for national policy

In California, vehicles are responsible for almost 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, making transportation the state’s greatest sole contributor to climate pollution. The enormity of this problem was an impetus for California becoming the first state to adopt comprehensive vehicle emissions standards in 2009. Modeled largely after California’s regulations of the same name, the federal Clean Car Standards set national greenhouse-gas reduction goals for vehicles made between 2017 and 2025, and established incentives for manufacturers to produce technologically-advanced new cars.

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Posted in California, Electric Vehicles| Comments are closed

Putting the Customer First: How California can Achieve a Distributed Energy Grid

3725860708_50e3dd08c7_zIf you have ever worked in the service industry and dealt with a difficult customer (or even seen one in action), you are likely inclined to recall the oft-used adage, “the customer is always right.” Clichéd as that phrase may be, it is not without merit. Here at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we believe the same truism applies to how utilities approach providing electricity.

In a recent ruling issued in the Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (IDER) proceeding, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioner Michel Florio found, quite properly, that utility business models need to be evaluated in order to put more customer and third party-owned distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and energy storage onto the grid. Currently, utilities receive a rate of return if they build infrastructure necessary to support our central power grid (like pipelines for our aging natural gas system). If clean, distributed energy sources make that infrastructure less essential, it could jeopardize the utilities’ revenue stream, thereby discouraging them from including these cost-effective energy resources in our power mix. Read More »

Posted in California, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models| Read 6 Responses

In California, Electric Vehicles are the New DeLorean in 'Back to the Future'

CARRAs any child of the ’80s knows, October 21, 2015 is “Back to the Future Day” – the day that the film’s protagonist, Marty McFly, travels to the future in his DeLorean. Though it would no doubt be useful to have access to flying cars (think of the traffic one could avoid), Californians are seeing increased access to something more practical: electric vehicles (EVs).

In order to meet the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, emissions from transportation – the sector most responsible for harmful pollution – need to be addressed. Enter Governor Brown’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which aims to build enough infrastructure statewide to support one million clean vehicles by 2020, and put 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2025. With this executive order, we have a much better chance of ensuring a low-carbon future and effectively combatting climate change in California. Read More »

Posted in California, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

Orange is the New Black, 40 is the New 30…and Energy Storage Could be the New California Power Plant

Moss_Landing_Power_Plant_p1270026If you follow pop culture, you’ve likely heard that Orange is the New Black, and 40 is the new 30. A perhaps lesser known – but equally important – new comparison that is turning heads in California is that energy storage might just be the new power plant.

This probably warrants a bit of explanation. On a power grid without storage, solar energy is generated during the day when the sun is shining its brightest, providing clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses – thus lessening the hold on the grid of dirty power plants. But what happens when this energy source goes offline? As people come home after work and turn on TVs, run dishwashers, and fire up other hungry appliances (also referred to as “peak” energy hours), the grid must rely on fossil fuel-powered electricity to ramp up production quickly.

However, when energy storage is added into this mix, a shift occurs. If there is enough renewable energy stockpiled during the sun’s most productive hours, between 11 AM and 3 PM, then the use of fossil fuels at peak times can be reduced.  In this way, new fossil fuel power plants that might be necessary to meet increased population and demand can be avoided.  And voila: energy storage is the new power plant. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Storage, State| Comments are closed
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