Calif. PUC Improves State's Demand Programs and Boosts Renewable Energy Capacity by 232 MW

December 15, 2006

In two separate actions at the end of 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted improvements to the electric utilities’ demand response programs and approved five contracts for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company that will add 232 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the company’s renewable energy portfolio.

On November 30, the PUC approved improvements to the state's demand response programs that were triggered by last summer's heat waves that strained the state electrical grid. During hearings, the PUC heard testimony that demand response played a critical role in reducing that strain by reducing their energy usage when called upon by the utilities and the California Independent System Operator. Some of the improvements to the state's demand response programs include:

  • Simplifying incentive structures and establishing more flexible rules for the programs such as allowing customers to participate through third-party aggregators.
  • Increasing incentives for technologies that will enable customer participation, such as a rebate program that offsets the costs of technology that a customer installs to participate in demand response programs.
  • Encouraging permanent load shifting; the utilities are directed to solicit 5-year proposals from customers and aggregators for permanent load shifting that can be implemented by summer 2007.

For more information, see the California PUC November 30 press release.

In early December, the PUC approved approved contracts for five new biomass and geothermal power plants that will go online over the next three years starting in 2007. The contracts cover electricity generated by the Northwest Geothermal facility (30 to 120 MW), the IAE Truckhaven geothermal facility (49 MW), the El Nido biomass facility (9 MW), the Chowchilla biomass facility (9 MW), and the Geysers geothermal facility (200 MW). These new contracts will provide new power generation and help the state meet its renewable energy goals under the California Renewable Portfolio Standard to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020.

For more information, read the California PUC December 14 news release.