Carla Peterman, Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission and ERG PhD Candidate, recently spoke at CITRIS on California energy policy and the ambitious transition from conventional fossil generation to renewable and other clean resources.
Low-carbon, variable and distributed generation provide many benefits to the state, but they also present new circumstances for our traditional energy integration and reliability tools to respond to. Some of the resources that California is pursuing to manage this change are demand response, generation diversity, fast response natural gas plants, and energy storage. Carla discussed about the tools and analytics the California Public Utilities Commission and the state are pursing to address integration and promote flexible resources. Recent developments in energy storage and demand response and the potential role for electric vehicles to provide these services were highlighted.
Fitting energy storage into the grid will help smooth renewables’ power curve and allow them to stand alone, rather than lean on backup gas generators. “Storing energy allows us to use it at higher-value times without creating the air emissions you would have from burning fossil fuels,” Peterman says. “The technologies are emerging, so they are high cost. But they are also high benefit.”
California is the first state to propose energy-storage targets, making Peterman’s work groundbreaking, not just at home but nationwide. The markets energized by California’s new policies could likewise spill over state lines.