Newsom issues emergency proclamation to free up extra sources of power

Newsom issues emergency proclamation to free up extra sources of power

8/1/2021 8:48:00 AM

Newsom issues emergency proclamation to free up extra sources of power

Efforts include reducing red tape and even offering money for industrial energy users.

PrintWith energy resources looking exceedingly tight amid a persistently hot summer that has seen a spate of wildfires burn across the West, Gov. Gavin Newsom issuedan emergency proclamationFriday to free up additional megawatts of power to help make sure the state’s lights stay on in the coming months.

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“I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist throughout California due to the combined effects of drought, wildfire and extreme heat on the state’s energy system,” Newsom said in the 11-page order.The proclamation suspends certain permitting requirements, temporarily lifts some regulations and creates incentives so large energy users can move to backup power generation — all in an effort to add capacity or reduce load on the state’s electric grid through October.

One intriguing item in the proclamation calls for the state to reimburse utilities for payments made to industrial customers who agree to reduce their energy consumption when the grid is stressed.AdvertisementSpecifics of the plan still appeared to need firming up but Newsom’s order said “utilities must pay participating customers” as much as $2 per kilowatt-hour when they conserve. The state’s Department of Finance will provide the funding.

Edward Randolph, deputy executive director for energy and climate policy at California Public Utilities Commission, said the program is being developed through the governor’s office.“This particular program is going to be limited to larger industrial customers who have larger load they could potentially reduce,” Randolph said. “It is intended to augment existing programs.”

The proclamation also included:Suspending licensing requirements to speed up the expansion of battery energy storage systems of 20 megawatts or more that can discharge for at least two hours by Oct. 31 and deliver energy when the grid needs it most.Easing restrictions on using backup generators when the power system is squeezed.

Allowing natural gas power plants to use more fuel than typically allowed by air quality districts when the state’s grid operator has issued an emergency notice or a grid warning.Exempting ships berthed in California ports to operate on auxiliary engines — which can mean using diesel fuel — instead of using shore power when the grid is strained.

“Our first attempt will always be to deploy clean energy,” Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer told reporters during a conference call. “There will be some backup energy that will be from fossil fuels that [will be] used in very intermittent, very extreme and very rare occasions but the tools will be in the toolbox for us to deploy.”

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To help offset the extra greenhouse gas emissions, the governor’s proclamation directs the California Air Resources Board to come up with a plan by November to improve air quality in affected communities, especially those in economically disadvantaged areas.

“We’ll be setting up a mitigation program and new funds will be made available above and beyond our existing air quality funding that will mitigate those impacts,” saidLiane Randolph, chair of the Air Resources Board.Newsom’s proclamation referenced California facing “an immediate shortfall of up to 3,500 megawatts during extreme weather events” now projected for this summer, after a workshop conducted by state energy officials wrapped up last month.

Newsom also alluded to a “previously unforeseen shortfall of up to 5,000 megawatts” that is projected for the summer of 2022, given the likelihood that the state’s severe drought conditions, heatwaves and wildfires won’t let up.Advertisement Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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