California’s Existing Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Needs Work

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EV Charging “Out of Order” (UC Berkeley Report)

UC Berkeley studied the existing electric vehicle charging stations and found several problems.  Of 657 public chargers in the Bay Area, 23% were out of order, and an additional 5% were fitted with a cable that couldn’t reach a car. 

The study did not look at Tesla charging stations since not all vehicles can charge at Tesla charging stations.  The study found that six percent of the charging stations could not initiate a charge.  Seven percent of the charging stations could not initiate a payment.  One percent had broken charging cords. Nine percent had broken or inoperable digital screens.

The UC Berkley study coincides with a Plug-In America survey.  EV users’ top complaints were broken or nonfunctional chargers, chargers being too far apart, and slow charging speed.  One-third of the EV users polled said DC fast charging stations were a concern.  A similar percentage stated the lack of charging locations was an issue. More than 25 percent of those polled complained of slow charging speed. The complaint numbers dropped significantly for Tesla drivers and Tesla’s Supercharger Network.

Another study, published by J.D. Power, found that 20% of respondents showed up at a public station and did not charge up; of those, 72% said the station was out of service. 

As an LA Times article stated last week, “If I were grading the public charger industry, right now I’d issue a harsh D+.  At the parent-teacher conference, I’d say that Johnny is not living up to his potential.  Let’s hope he applies himself.”

SACCWIS Recommends Extending Retirement Dates for OTC Facilities – Again

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Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Scattergood Generating Station

The Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS), which is composed of the CAISO, CCEC, and CPUC – filed a draft report to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) this week (9/20) recommending that the OTC facilities slated for retirement remain on-line for an additional 3 and 5 years. 

Specifically, the report recommends that the SWRCB allow three AES facilities, the 1,137 MW Alamitos, 1,491 MW Ormond Beach and 226 MW Huntington Beach facilities to stay online another three years, to the end of 2026. 

This would be the second three-year extension of these plants, with a combined capacity of 2,854 MW.  Originally, they were slated for closure in 2010.  SACCWIS did not propose keeping the fourth AES plant, the Redondo Beach plant, online for an additional three years.

SACCWIS also recommends keeping the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) 324 MW Scattergood units 1 and 2 online for an additional five years, moving the closure date from December 31, 2024, to the end of 2029.

To date, 16 power plants totaling nearly 18,000 megawatts (MW) in the CAISO balancing area have been shuttered or repowered with air cooling.  While the CEC has recently insisted, as has the Governor’s Office, that closing natural gas-fueled OTC units remains a goal of the state, the CPUC in its IRP and ongoing concerns about grid reliability has now, for the second time in 3 years, resulting in a call for those resources to stay online until the transition to a 100% clean grid is further along.

According to the report, the cost of keeping the natural gas-fueled plants online longer could be covered by part of the $3 billion allocated to keep existing fossil fuel power plants running in the newly created Strategic Reliability Plan (AB 205).  CDWR and the CEC are to manage this fund and contracting.

The “extensions would be responsive to concerns regarding grid reliability and would bolster the electrical power supply that is essential for the welfare of the residents of the State of California,” according to the State Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures’ proposal. 

SACCWIS cites the updated state energy reliability analysis that concluded that more intense heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and supply chain constraints, are driving the need for the coastal power plant extensions.  It highlights the finding that there could be a 10,000 MW shortage by the summer of 2025.

The water board will hold a public hearing on the draft plan’s proposed coastal plant extensions on September 30.

Report of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS): 2022 Special Report of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (ca.gov)

Newsom Signs Climate Package

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Governor Gavin Newsom Bill Signing September 2022

As we had previously reported and expected Governor Gavin Newsom this week signed his climate package of bills which he proposed late in the legislative session, and a number of other climate bills that had been part of our tracking list this session.  The new laws will now require the state to become carbon-neutral by 2045, produce 90% of its electricity from clean sources by 2035, create safety zones around oil wells near homes, and draft rules to fast-track permitting of technology that aim to remove carbon from the air. 

Newsom proudly stated at a press conference on Friday in Vallejo that “We were able to advance not just our ideals, but this cause during the most extreme test that this state has ever faced, and we’re proud of that,” Newsom said, referring to the extreme heat wave that shattered thousands of records statewide and brought the grid within megawatts of rolling blackouts.

The package signed by Newsom, totaling 40 pieces of legislation, includes measures on electric vehicles, transmission infrastructure, water, and emissions.

Among the most major are laws requiring the state to get the entire economy carbon neutral by 2045, generate enough renewable energy to cover 90 percent of needs by 2035 and 95 percent by 2040, and streamline permitting for carbon removal and storage projects.

While Newsom’s actions represent a significant victory, the fight between environmentalists and the oil and gas industry is far from over, given that many of the laws punt to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the air agency already working on a major plan to bring emissions down by midcentury.  The agency is already facing intense lobbying as it works to finish the report by the end of the year.

Newsom: “This month has been a wake-up call for all of us that later is too late to act on climate change. California isn’t waiting anymore.  Together with the Legislature, California is taking the most aggressive action on climate our nation has ever seen.  We’re cleaning the air we breathe, holding the big polluters accountable, and ushering in a new era for clean energy.  That’s climate action done the California Way – and we’re not only doubling down, but we’re also just getting started.”

State Senator John Laird: “If we talked about having this ceremony a year ago, I think none of us in the legislature would have thought it was possible.”

Newsom also committed more than $54 billion to address climate change as he heads to Climate Week in New York City.  The full set of bills the Governor signed that work toward achieving the state’s climate goals include:

  • AB 1384 (Gabriel) – Resiliency Through Adaptation, Economic Vitality, and Equity Act of 2022.
  • AB 1389 (Gómez Reyes) – Clean Transportation Program: project funding preferences.
  • AB 1749 (Cristina Garcia) – Community emissions reduction programs: toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants.
  • AB 1757 (Cristina Garcia) – California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: climate goal: natural and working lands.
  • AB 1857 (Cristina Garcia) – Solid waste.
  • AB 1909 (Friedman) – Vehicles: bicycle omnibus bill.
  • AB 1985 (Rivas) – Organic waste: recovered organic waste product procurement targets.
  • AB 2061 (Ting) – Transportation electrification: electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • AB 2075 (Ting) – Energy: electric vehicle charging standards.
  • AB 2108 (Rivas) – Water policy: environmental justice: disadvantaged and tribal communities.
  • AB 2204 (Horvath) – Clean energy: Labor and Workforce Development Agency: Deputy Secretary for Climate.
  • AB 2278 (Kalra) – Natural resources: biodiversity and conservation report.
  • AB 2316 (Ward) – Public Utilities Commission: customer renewable energy subscription programs and the community renewable energy program.
  • AB 2440 (Irwin) – Responsible Battery Recycling Act of 2022.
  • AB 2446 (Holden) – Embodied carbon emissions: construction materials.
  • AB 2622 (Mullin) –  Sales and use taxes: exemptions: California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project: transit buses.
  • AB 2700 (McCarty) – Transportation electrification: electrical distribution grid upgrades.
  • AB 2836 (Eduardo Garcia) – Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program: vehicle registration fees: California tire fee.
  • SB 379 (Wiener) – Residential solar energy systems: permitting.
  • SB 529 (Hertzberg) – Electricity: electrical transmission facilities.
  • SB 887 (Becker) – Electricity: transmission facility planning.
  • SB 1010 (Skinner) – Air pollution: state vehicle fleet.
  • SB 1063 (Skinner) – Energy: appliance standards and cost-effective measures.
  • SB 1075 (Skinner) – Hydrogen: green hydrogen: emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • SB 1109 (Caballero) – California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: bioenergy projects.
  • SB 1145 (Laird) – California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: greenhouse gas emissions: dashboard.
  • SB 1158 (Becker) – Retail electricity suppliers: emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • SB 1203 (Becker) – Net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases: state agency operations.
  • SB 1205 (Allen) – Water rights: appropriation.
  • SB 1215 (Newman) – Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003: covered battery-embedded products.
  • SB 1230 (Limόn) – Zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicle incentive programs: requirements.
  • SB 1251 (Gonzalez) – Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development: Zero-Emission Vehicle Market Development Office: Zero-Emission Vehicle Equity Advocate.
  • SB 1291 (Archuleta) – Hydrogen-fueling stations: administrative approval.
  • SB 1314 (Limόn) – Oil and gas: Class II injection wells: enhanced oil recovery.
  • SB 1322 (Allen) – Energy: petroleum pricing.
  • SB 1382 (Gonzalez) – Air pollution: Clean Cars 4 All Program: Sales and Use Tax Law: zero emissions vehicle exemption.
  • AB 2251 (Calderon) – Urban forestry: statewide strategic plan.
  • SB 1174 (Hertzberg) – Electricity: eligible renewable energy or energy storage resources: transmission and interconnection.

As a reminder, the bills that were specific to Newsom’s climate package that was proposed late in the session are as follow:

  • AB 1279 (Muratsuchi) will put into state law the existing policy goal of reaching statewide “carbon neutrality” by 2045.
  • SB 1020 (Laird) will set benchmarks that the state electric grid has to hit before sourcing all of its power from renewable sources by 2045.
  • SB 905 (Caballero) will require the Air Resources Board to develop regulations for projects that capture, reuse and store carbon emissions.
  • SB 1137 (Gonzalez) will ban the drilling of any new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals, effectively banning the activity from most developed areas in the state

For the full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

California Sets Power Usage Record as Historic Heatwave Wanes

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California Power Usage Hits All-Time High

California faced one of the most prolonged heatwaves in its history.  All-time record temperatures up and down the state made it difficult for Californians to stay cool and the power to stay on.  The result of the oppressive heat led to Governor Gavin Newsom calling for an emergency proclamation to address the ten-day power crisis.  The proclamation loosened some environmental rules to ensure that the power stayed on and offered more benefits for those entities who chose to reduce energy usage.

During the ten days, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the entity in charge of the state’s electrical grid, called for ten consecutive days of Flex Alerts and Energy Emergency Alert Watch (EEA Watch).  The Governor’s emergency proclamation, which ended on September 9, also allowed diesel and other backup generation to operate to reduce demand and increase energy supply. 

During the ten-day period, the Governor’s Administration and CAISO held daily phone calls with key stakeholders, including the investor-owned utilities, publicly-owned utilities, consumer choice aggregators, and large power users.  The daily calls ensured that all entities were on the same page and could react more nimbly if needed. 

California’s New Power Usage Record

During this time, peak demand reached highs for the year.  In fact, September 6 set a new all-time peak that had stood since 2006.  The ten-day peaks are as follows:

Day                                  Load

August 31                       45,117

September 1                    46, 959

September 2                    45,523

September 3                    44.023

September 4                    44,130

September 5                    48,929

September 6                  52,061

September 7                    50,071

September 8                    48,385

September 9                    42,061

The state turned to natural gas plants to keep the lights on.  During the ten days, nearly half the power came from natural gas (48,7%).  Imports made up 18.3%, renewables 20.8%, large hydro 6% and nuclear 6%.  During peak periods, the state relied more on natural gas and imports. 

During the 10-day period, five EEA 1 Emergencies, five EEA 2 Emergencies and one EEA 3 Emergency were issued.  The EEA 1 Emergency is called because reserve shortfalls exist, and there is a need for conservation.  In EEA 2 Emergencies, the state can no longer provide for its expected energy requirements, and market intervention is needed, such as ordering power plants online.  Also, during the EEA 2 Emergencies, the state ordered the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) peaker facilities in Roseville and Yuba City. 

An EEA 3 Emergency is issued when that state cannot meet minimum contingency reserve requirements and load interruption is imminent or in progress.  Notice is issued to utilities of potential electricity interruptions through firm load shedding.  At this time, utilities are told to “arm” or prepare for rolling outages. 

Despite the daily calls, greater coordination, the increase in imports and thermal power, the use of CDWR peaker plants, and the demand response efforts, California barely made it through the crisis.  On September 6, the peak demand day, an EEA 3 Emergency was issued, and the state came within minutes of rotating outages.  California lost more than 2,000 MW of thermal power due to plant problems.  The vast majority of the troubled thermal units came back online for the peak period.  Some smaller utilities also misunderstood the policies and started to rotate outages when the EEA 3 emergency was called.  Even with these actions, the state needed to shed more load.  So the Governor ordered the use of the Amber Alert system, used to notify Californians of missing children, to alert Californians of the problem.  The message was sent to phones throughout the state, and the public responded with a load shed. 

The Administration knew the Amber Alert was something they could use only once and did not need to use it again.  For the remainder of the week, the state faced EEA 2 emergencies due to higher-than-normal demand, potential loss of transmission due to potential public safety power shutoffs in Southern California and Oregon, and reduced solar power due to smoke and cloud cover.  

As Governor Newsom said after the power outages in 2020, “We’ve always maintained that a golden oldie, you can’t control the weather, but you can prepare for the weather event. And let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan these shortages, and that’s simply unacceptable… We cannot sacrifice reliability as we move forward in this transition.  And we’re going to be much more aggressive in focusing our efforts and our intention in making sure that is the case.”

As the state moves toward a cleaner and greener energy future, it will be interesting to see if California heeds the Governor’s words.

What About Power Prices, How High Did They Get?

Dr. Lucas Davis, at the UC Berkeley Energy Institute at the Haas School, has taken this on in his blog post:

“I want to look at what happened to wholesale electricity prices… Both Tuesday (9/6) and Wednesday (9/7) wholesale prices reached $1200 per MWh, some of the highest prices in recent memory.”

We recommend reading his full blog here:  https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2022/09/12/how-high-did-californias-electricity-prices-get/