CPUC Decision Calls for 1,000 MW of New, “Firm” Renewables, Including Bioenergy

The CPUC’s Decision calls for 11,500 MW of new renewable power generation to offset the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant and several natural gas plants along the coast that use “once-through cooling.”  The Decision also calls for 1,000 MW from “firm” renewable power – bioenergy and geothermal – that is available when needed and has a capacity factor of at least 80 percent (is in operation 80% of the time throughout the year).  The new generation must be online by the end of 2026.

The requirement for firm renewable power begins on page 35 of the CPUC’s Decision on Mid-Term Reliability Procurement.

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proposal

The CPUC’s Staff Proposal on Track 2 of the microgrid proceeding was very disappointing.  The Commission failed to propose requirements for microgrids to include a diverse portfolio of energy and storage sources, to transition to renewable fuels and cleaner technologies, to require long-duration energy storage, or to move beyond pilot scale programs.  BAC’s comments on the Staff Proposal urge the Commission to include bioenergy and other forms of baseload and flexible generation power and to add requirements for long-duration storage (which biogas and biomethane can provide), to move away from fossil fuels, and to expand the program beyond pilot projects.

See BAC Comments on Microgrid Track 2 Staff Proposal

CPUC Launches Microgrid Track 2

The CPUC is required by state law  to adopt a microgrid tariff and other policies to support microgrid development.  The CPUC recently adopted a decision implementing several short-term actions that are intended to expand the use of microgrids during the 2020 wildfire season.  The Commission also just issued a Staff Proposal on Track 2 of the proceeding, which addresses the need for a statewide microgrid tariff, expanded use of micrgrids to maintain power for essential services and other issues.

See CPUC’s Track 2 Microgrid Proposal

BAC’s Comments on Proposed BioMAT Decision

BAC submitted comments in support of the Proposed Decision on BioMAT, which is a 250 megawatt program required by state law (SB 1122, Rubio, 2012).  Most importantly, the Proposed Decision will extend the program end date to the end of 2025.  BAC also supports the Proposed Decision to increase flexibility for developers, set deadlines for utility’s, and to convert to a statewide program in recognition of the statewide benefits that BioMAT projects provide.

See BAC Comments on Proposed BioMAT Decision

CPUC Extends BioMAT Program, Adopts Important Changes

The CPUC voted 5-0 to extend the BioMAT program and make several critical changes to the program.  The CPUC’s Decision extends the program end date to the end of 2025.  This is critical since the utilities have only procured about 20 percent of the 250 megawatts required by the program.  The CPUC Decision also increases delivery flexibility for project developers, establishes deadlines for utilities to review project eligibility and approve contracts, and establishes a non-bypassable charge so that all rate-payers will share the costs of the program.  The CPUC proposed the non-bypassable charge in recognition of the fact that BioMAT projects provide important statewide benefits that all ratepayers should help to pay for, not just the purchasing utility’s customers.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on BioMAT (July 24, 2020), which was adopted by the Commission on August 28.

BAC Comments on CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal

BAC filed comments on the CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal to support the proposal and request clarification of several items.  The most important changes recommended in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the end date to the end of 2025
  • Increase operational flexibility and revise burdensome penalty provisions
  • Make the program a statewide program

BAC supported these changes and requested that they apply to existing BioMAT contracts.  BAC also asked for clarification on the proposed greenhouse gas modeling.  And BAC has asked the CPUC to remove the utility service territory restriction as part of the move to make the BioMAT a statewide program.

See BAC Comments on BioMAT Staff Proposal (March 2020).

CPUC Proposes Major BioMAT Changes

In early March, the CPUC released a revised Staff Proposal on the BioMAT program.  The Staff Proposal contains 15 separate and significant proposals to revise the BioMAT program.  Generally, the proposals are quite helpful and some – extending the program end date – are absolutely critical.  The most significant recommendations in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the BioMAT program end date from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2025;
  • Make the program statewide, allowing other purchasers of BioMAT power, instead of limiting it to the three investor-owned utilities;
  • Provide greater operational flexibility and reduce some of the excessive penalty provisions;
  • Extend the time allowed for projects to begin commercial operation;
  • Set deadlines for utilities to execute contracts; and
  • Require projects to provide lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analyses

See CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal (March2020)

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proposal

BAC’s comments on the CPUC Staff Proposal on Microgrids focus on the need to include bioenergy and biogas in microgrids.  Relying on solar and batteries alone limits the duration that microgrids can operate.   Bioenergy can extend the duration of microgrids and make them much more reliable by providing a fuel source for backup generators, flexible generation that can fill in around solar and batteries, energy storage, and other grid services.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal

CPUC Releases Staff Proposal on Microgrids

SB 1339 (Stern 2018) requires the California Public Utilities Commission to adopt a measures to accelerate the development of microgrids to ensure reliable electricity supplies during Public Safety Power Shutoffs and other grid disturbances.  Microgrids are especially important to keep the power on for emergency and essential services.  The CPUC Staff Proposal for short-term actions that can help microgrids before the 2020 fire season focuses very narrowly on microgrids powered by solar and batteries, which are not sufficient for long-duration outages and will not be effective under all circumstances.

See the ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal on Microgrids Track 1

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proceeding

BAC submitted comments in late October on the CPUC’s Order Instituting Rulemaking.  BAC urged the Commission to address the need for baseload and flexible generation, to consider opportunities to convert local organic waste to local energy supplies, to include renewable gas for microgrid reliability, to consider the importance of Short-Lived Climate Pollutant reductions, and to consider other upstream benefits like wildfire mitigation and landfill reduction.  BAC’s comments are on BAC’s website.

The CPUC is expected to issue the Scoping Ruling in early 2020 and to complete the development of the microgrid framework by the end of 2020.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on OIR