The Golden State has a history of suffering through summers of extreme heat waves, blackouts, and wildfires. Gov. Gavin Newsom rightly warned last month: “If you are in denial about climate change, come to California”. The challenges caused by climate change requires a clean and competent solution that must be able to address the term ‘keep the lights on’ without worsening the already dire situation. Some observers also believe that California’s efforts to toggle between fossil fuels and renewable energy also played a role in leaving Californians without power.
In the wake of the wildfires that have burned an area roughly the size of Connecticut, the state has pledged to accelerate progress toward 100% clean energy by 2045. Turning this pledge into reality will require a full-force effort.
While some will offer comprehensive long-term policy changes, there are immediate opportunities that need to improve to ensure there is always adequate electricity to meet demand. Giving boost to energy storage, demand response, reward to conservation of energy are a few which we can take into consideration in spite of procuring new energy projects. In short, California has the required technology, adequate resources, and ample capabilities to deliver clean, reliable energy by next summer. However, it lacks proper regulations/policies which can fully reap the benefits of renewable energy. Below are a few suggestions which the California energy agencies should implement which resultantly that can maximize the value and market opportunity for clean resources.
The government must reward customers for conserving electricity – particularly during the peak. The immediate step should be that the CPUC should suspend the procurement cap of 8.3% for 2021.
Solar rooftop installation clubbed with storage options is increasing across California providing backup power during the seasonal power shutoff events. This excess stored power can provide hundreds of megawatt-hours of clean peaking energy generation. Currently, the state does not have policies in force to make full use of this storage capacity.
The state should also take steps to reduce the cost and other barriers to entry for non-utility conservation and battery storage providers to unleash their innovation to reduce our need for more electricity.
As California works to build an electricity system that is ready not only for the challenges that climate change has in store but also to provide 100% clean and renewable energy. It is the need of the hour that we must pace up implementation of these common-sense changes.
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