California CEC Looks at Future of Microgrids in Workshop

July 7, 2020
The California Energy Commission will hold a two-day remote workshop, beginning today, to gather information and assess the future of microgrids in the state.

California, a frontrunner among states in its support for microgrids, will hold a two-day remote workshop, beginning July 7, to gather information and assess what’s next for the technology.

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Organized by the California Energy Commission, the workshop focuses on opportunities to address resiliency challenges facing the state. Electricity customers were hard hit by power outages last Fall when California utilities de-energized transmission lines to avert wildfires, a practice known as public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). Workshop participants also will explore how microgrids can be used to achieve the state’s energy and climate policy goals.

Part of the commission’s 2020 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, the event will include three sessions held over two days, July 7 and 9. The first session, 10 am PST, July 7, will focus on assessing the value and role of microgrids in California with:

  • The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) presenting information on SB 1339, a state law passed in 2018 that requires the CPUC to develop regulations, standards, and guidelines by December 1 to facilitate the commercialization of microgrids 
  • The CEC Energy Research and Development Division providing lessons learned from the more than 30 active microgrids funded by the CEC Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program
  • A panel of microgrid owners and managers discussing operational successes and challenges. In addition, utilities will explain how microgrids are being used and considered in their future operations.

The second session, 10 am PST, July 9, looks at microgrids for resilience and microgrid economics. It will include:

  • Industry personnel with field experience managing microgrids discussing how the technology can address resiliency for critical facilities
  • Industry and finance personnel delving into the economics of installing and operating microgrids and the outlook for them becoming commercially viable in the future

The third session, 2 pm PST, July 9, will address residential installations and other emerging microgrid technologies. Representatives from industry will discuss:

  • The impact of wildfires and public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) on Californians, particularly those in low-income and disadvantaged communities, and how the use of microgrids can provide energy continuity in the future. 
  • New and emerging technologies that will allow microgrids to provide enhanced protection from the risk of a power loss from a wildfire or PSPS events

Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge, will moderate a panel, “Emerging Technologies to Extend Microgrid Resiliency Capabilities” as part of the third session on Thursday, July 9. Others on the panel are: Alex Morris, executive director, California Energy Storage Alliance; Jack Brouwer, professor and director, National Fuel Cell Research Center; and Julia Levin, executive director, Bioenergy Association of California. 

The two-day workshop is hosted by CEC Chair David Hochschild and CEC Vice Chair Janea Scott. Other workshop participants include Marybel Batjer, CPUC president;  Genevieve Shiroma, CPUC commissioner and Steve Berberich, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator.

Remote access is available to the public and industry via Zoom. Details for connecting are available on the CEC website.

Learn more about microgrid initiatives in California. Download the free Microgrid Knowledge Special Report, Why Energy-as-a-Service Microgrids are the Logical Next Step for California — and the Rest of the US.

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