CPUC Approves Short-Term Microgrid and Resiliency Actions

Following its plan to prioritize microgrid projects and resiliency strategies that can be implemented quickly for the upcoming wildfire season, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued Decision 20-06-017. in Track 1 of a longer-term effort to support development of microgrids in California. The decision orders the large electric investor-owned utilities (IOUs), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), to take several immediate actions to facilitate use of onsite energy resources during public safety power shut off (PSPS) events, and approves several projects proposed by the IOUs.

The required resiliency actions include:

  • Development and implementation of standardized, pre-approved system designs for interconnection of resiliency projects that deliver energy services during grid outages.
  • Development and implementation of methods to increase simplicity and transparency of the processes by which the IOUs inspect and approve a project.
  • Prioritization of interconnection of resiliency projects for key locations, facilities, and/or customers.

  • The solutions to modernize tariffs to maximize social resiliency benefits include:

  • Requiring the IOUs to modify their net energy metering (NEM) tariffs to allow storage devices to charge from the grid during the period immediately prior to a PSPS event.
  • Requiring the IOUs to modify their NEM tariffs to remove storage sizing limits.

  • The solutions to promote collaborative engagement include:

  • Requiring the IOUs to conduct meetings to educate and inform local and tribal government agencies on vulnerable electric transmission and distribution infrastructure and critical operations.
  • Requiring the large IOUs to develop a resiliency project guide, and assist local and tribal governments in navigating the interconnection process for resiliency projects.
  • Directing the IOUs to dedicate staff to manage the intake of local and tribal government resiliency projects and create a separate data portal for these governmental entities.

  • The approved IOU resiliency proposals include:

  • PG&E Make-Ready Program. PG&E is authorized during 2020-2022 to implement distribution upgrades to enable it to island substations and serve them by temporary or permanent generation, providing continuous service to larger populations during PSPS events. PG&E will collaborate with CCAs for planning and procurement within the CCAs’ service territories.
  • PG&E Community Microgrid Enablement Program. PG&E is authorized during 2020-2022 to implement a program including (1) enhanced utility technical support to local and tribal governments to support critical facility microgrid projects; (2) enhanced customer-facing microgrid implementation information and project tools; (3) one-time matching funds to offset some portion of the costs associated with upgrades to PG&E’s distribution system and ensure safe operations; and (4) working with stakeholders to draft proposed community microgrid tariffs, subject to Commission review and approval.
  • PG&E Temporary Generation Program. PG&E is authorized to use mobile, temporarily-sited distribution generation at substations, mid-feeder line segments serving commercial corridors and commercial facilities, and backup power support, including power for community resource centers. Use of diesel backup generators is limited to one year from execution of vendor agreements in 2020, in light of potential health risks associated with emissions.
  • SDG&E Local Area Distribution Controller. SDG&E is authorized to procure software and hardware technology that will enhance microgrid operation to augment and interoperate with SDG&E’s existing advanced distribution management system, Wildfire Mitigation Plan microgrid projects and related activities.

  • The CPUC’s microgrid proceeding (Rulemaking 19-09-009) was initiated to implement Senate Bill 1339, a 2018 initiative to facilitate the commercialization of microgrids for distribution customers of large IOUs. Further activity will continue in subsequent phases of this proceeding.

    Contact: Lynn Haug or Ron Liebert