CAISO’s New Transmission Plan Includes Water, Renewables, Nukes

By Published On: April 6, 2012

The grid operator began the first phase of its 2012/2013 transmission planning in an April 2 workshop. Not only is it considering the continued lack of power from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in figuring how to keep the grid reliable, it’s also set to examine the impact of any shutdown of the Diablo Canyon facility. “Local and system grid reliability due to the absence of these two baseload nuclear generating stations will be evaluated,” noted the California Independent System Operator’s study plan. The effect of taking other power plants cooled by ocean water off the grid also will be part of the study, noted the grid operator. State law requires those power plant owners to phase out the old technology or switch to water-saving cooling techniques. CAISO “anticipates the policy will cause the majority of gas-fired generating units using once-through cooling to come offline in order to retrofit or repower using alternative cooling technologies, or retire,” according to the grid operator. It also notes that the policy could affect the two nuclear facilities, which, when running, are permitted in total to consume 4.8 billion gallons of seawater per day. The plan also identifies reviewing the South Coast Air Basin, where air quality is impacted by power plants. The dearth of available air pollution emission offsets in the South Coast Air Quality Management District has seriously constrained new power projects. The South Coast part of the report goes to the governor and Legislature. Renewable energy requirements are also part of the transmission planning process. The grid operator breaks the renewables requirement down into two objectives. First is to support delivery of the 33 percent renewables portfolio standard “over the course of all hours of the year.” Second is to support resource adequacy deliverability standards outside the grid operator’s authority “needed to achieve the 33 percent energy goal,” according to the plan. Outside resources currently have “no way” to obtain resource adequacy status in the state. The plan is not just the grid operator’s, but a collaboration of agencies, including the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and State Water Resources Control Board. It’s expected to be voted on March 2013.

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