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June heat wave revealed key capacity concerns: Cal-ISO CEO

Increase font size  Decrease font size Date:2019-07-29   Views:87
A June heat wave showed that the California Independent System Operator is struggling to meet load levels that it has easily met in the past, and the grid operator is working with state regulators to make sure enough capacity is procured to avoid a shortfall, according to the CEO of Cal-ISO.

The grid operator would be "challenged" to meet load levels like the 2017 peak of 50,116 MW, considering the fact that Cal-ISO issued a flex alert and had a hard time meeting the peak load of 42,739 MW on June 11, Steve Berberich, Cal-ISO CEO, told the grid operator's board Wednesday afternoon.
"We should be able to meet 43,000 MW to 44,000 MW quite easily without having to issue flex alerts," Berberich said. The June heatwave should give the ISO pause about whether there are enough resources and imports in the face of continuing plant retirements, he said.

The grid operator is working with the California Public Utilities Commission to make sure they are aware of the capacity tightening and take action in both the resource adequacy program and the long-term procurement program to ensure the ISO has the necessary capacity on the system, Berberich explained.


While there are resource adequacy issues in Cal-ISO, there were other factors at play that day, said Morris Greenberg, an analyst with S&P Global Platts Analytics. The ISO's day-ahead forecast for the hour when thermal generation peaked on June 11 was about 900 MW too low for load, 500 MW too high for solar and 800 MW too high for wind, he said.

In addition, system generation outages were well over 6,000 MW, which is more than would be typical at the summer peak, Greenberg said. Imports were only 200 MW below the day-ahead schedule during that hour, though there were larger gaps in other hours that afternoon and evening, he said.


Earlier this week, Cal-ISO filed comments with the CPUC warning that there could be a 2,000 MW system capacity shortfall beginning in the summer of 2021, which could grow to 2,500 MW in 2022. Cal-ISO's analysis shows "a strong potential for insufficient resources in the hours immediately after the gross peak hour, when loads remain high but solar production rapidly decreases," the ISO said.

The CPUC should come up with a plan that prioritizes procurement of existing resources and imports, as well as new resources that will be online soon, the ISO said. The CPUC should also help to extend the deadline to comply with state once-through-cooling rules for gas-fired resources that are needed to maintain near-term reliability, the ISO said.

There are three generation resources representing 3,527 MW of capacity that could be considered for an OTC compliance date extension: the Alamitos, Redondo Beach and Ormond Beach generating stations, Cal-ISO said. Regarding existing capacity that could be procured, Cal-ISO noted that General Electric last month announced its plan to retire its 750-MW Inland Empire Energy Center by the end of 2019.

To meet near-term goals in time, the CPUC should start procurement activities before the end of 2019, the ISO said. For the long-term, the CPUC should develop a plan by summer of 2020 that addresses both reliability needs and clean energy goals, the grid operator said.
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