CEC Initiates Proceeding On Efficiency Improvements For Existing Powerplants

The California Energy Commission (“CEC”) initiated a proceeding titled “Incremental Efficiency Improvements to the Natural Gas Powerplant Fleet for Electric System Reliability and Resiliency” (Doc. No. 20-SIT-01). The goal of this proceeding is to facilitate the planned near-term actions described in the Preliminary Root Cause Analysis: Mid-August 2020 Heat Storm, which was jointly prepared by the CEC, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”), and the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”). Among those actions, the agencies and CAISO identified making additional capacity from firm capacity resources available by summer 2021. This August 2020 heatwave resulted in CAISO declaring a Stage 3 emergency on August 14th and CAISO-initiated rotating outages throughout California.

The proceeding will evaluate opportunities and constraints to making incremental technology improvements to the existing natural gas fleet in order to address near-term (as soon as summer 2021) reliability concerns. The CEC will also consider potential technology improvements to existing powerplants and whether process or procedure modifications are needed to allow plants to carry out these improvements.

While the state is clearly working to secure additional availability of reliable electric generation for summer 2021, it is unclear at this time what roadblocks may be removed in the siting and permit modification process. The proceeding may result in changes that streamline processes, or identify the need for certain investment incentives. We expect these questions to be addressed as the proceeding progresses.

If you have any questions regarding the CEC’s Incremental Efficiency Improvements proceeding, or other questions on the regulation of or policy initiatives directed under review at the CEC, please contact ESHD attorneys Jeffery Harris, Brian Biering, or Chase Maxwell.