August 3, 2018 Read More →

More than 20 California utilities file for expansion into renewables, storage

S&P Global Intelligence ($):

The filings with the California Public Utilities Commission include plans for tens of thousands of megawatts of additional renewable energy and energy storage, and charging infrastructure for several million electric vehicles.

The proposals are part of the new integrated resource planning (IRP) process created by a 2015 law that set California’s climate targets. The new IRP process puts emissions reductions at the center of planning for power providers, while maintaining a focus on electric reliability.

The filings reflect the extreme state of flux for California’s utilities amid an exodus of customers to fast-multiplying local power agencies known as community choice aggregators, or CCAs. More than two dozen CCAs have launched or are exploring formation, gobbling up 15% of regulated retail electric demand, the PUC estimates. That share could hit more than 80% by the 2020s.

Several pending regulatory decisions and legislative proposals further complicate the picture. At stake are how legacy costs are allocated among departing and remaining utility customers, along with a proposal to lift the cap on large energy users’ direct power purchases from independent suppliers, which could further fragment the retail power sector.

Like several other power providers, SoCalEd, an Edison International subsidiary, proposed separate plans depending on the outcome of pending regulatory action. The utility’s preferred proposal calls for around 4,200 MW of new renewables and about 1,600 MW of new energy storage, on top of already required amounts. The utility envisions 80% carbon-free power by 2030 across the state, as well as the addition of more than 16,000 MW of renewables, nearly 10,000 MW of energy storage and charging infrastructure for roughly seven million electric vehicles — well beyond the state’s current target of five million emission-free vehicles by 2030.

More ($):  ‘A decisive moment’: Calif. utilities pitch decarbonization plans

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