CA Reconsiders Water-Driven Plants’ Legacy

By Published On: August 21, 2014

State energy agencies are weighing contingency mitigation measures as a backstop in case generation or transmission in Southern California falters, including a targeted renewable distributed generation program. The contingency mitigation measures under consideration at an Aug 20 workshop also included additional requests to defer the phase-outs of once-through cooling plants. The deferrals, if approved by the State Water Resources Control Board, could be used as a temporary solution for about one to three years until a permanent solution to supply constraints is in sight, according to Mike Jaske of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Assessment Division. Another possibility outlined by Jaske was a targeted renewable distributed generation program in specific areas that could have reactive power capabilities. Projects wouldn’t be developed unless primary resources fail to develop on schedule or in needed amounts. Also mentioned was the possibility of having conventional gas projects permitted and procured, but not developed unless the above-mentioned trigger is met. Jaske noted the creation of a new spreadsheet tool that would produce annual results for areas of interest in Southern California, such as San Diego, the Los Angeles Basin and the area around the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Among other things, he said the tool could draw upon California Independent System Operator local capacity power flow results for certain years and load data from Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. The issue of Southern California electricity reliability became pressing in 2012 after the shuttering of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station exposed a vulnerability of an area of Southern California to voltage instability. “The extent of the problem [San Onofre] regarding operating the system without [ are still being assessed and discovered,” Jaske said, before adding that the California Independent System Operator has made “large strides” in installing and identifying installations and transmission system upgrades to provide reactive power support and give more flexibility regarding where to locate resources. Energy Commission Chair Bob Weisenmiller said he anticipates such a workshop being held each summer for years to come. He warned that Southern California is more vulnerable to power outages this summer because temperatures are running two degrees higher than normal, unlike last year, when temperatures were lower than normal. There have been about 300 fires a week in the drought-afflicted state so far this summer, he said, remarking that 96 percent of the state’s at fire risk. “The last two summers, we had a reliable system without San Onofre. We have been very lucky,” Weisenmiller said. “Bottom line is this is not a time for complacency, this summer.” “Emergency services people shudder when they think of what it’s going to be like in September or October,” he said.

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