Despite California’s upset for most energy efficient states in 2013, the movement toward a more widely accepted green energy supply gained some major administrative support earlier this month from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). The Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Roadmap gives the energy market and renewable energy portfolio in this deregulated state a fighting chance.

The plan released earlier this month delivers a multi-path solution to the problem of a wobbly support strategy for the electric grid. Promising by 2020 to turn energy efficiency and demand response (DR) into “integral, dependable and predictable resources”, the CAISO identifies four channels through which the state’s energy practices will be developed and supported — ultimately creating the ideal grid combination that’s both green-friendly and stable.

This 27-pager, though concise, is no light read. Here’s the gist of the four different elements of the Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Roadmap:

1) Load Reshaping Path

The first element of the ISO’s roadmap focuses specifically on the importance of enlisting energy end-users as a reduction resource for grid emergencies. The plan for tackling this job is twofold: continued efforts to lower overall energy consumption, and expanding or fortifying existing demand response programs.

2) Resource Sufficiency Path

Secondly, the California ISO’s roadmap addresses the recent status change of demand response — and solidifies it as a critical support to the renewable-powered grid. Sure, we’ve heard this before from CAISO, but the new appreciation for DR programs really stands out with two major differences than what the state has emphasized up to this point: flexibility and locational value.

Flexibility comes in when measuring how quickly and effectively a resource can react to the grid’s needs. CAISO defines measures of flexibility in three contexts:

“1) steep system ramps in either upward or downward direction, which may vary by month or season and occurs multiple times a day; 2) severe intra-hour system variability in either the upward or downward direction, which may vary by month or season; and 3) second-to-second regulation service to maintain standard frequency.”

3) Operations and Monitoring Paths

The CAISO is no exception to the growing need for regulations on demand response, energy efficiency and other grid support resources. The final two Paths in the Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Roadmap are closely related, dealing with local and statewide legal and commercial concerns for emerging trends in the energy industry. While much of the existing legislation can be updated or refined by state governing bodies, the federal government often gets the final word on program restrictions and efficiency incentives.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders 745 and 755 come into effect in this spring, and set new standards for demand response program administrators. Additionally, the CAISO plans to launch the Reliability Demand Response Resource (RDRR) tariff alongside these new mandates. Moving forward, the priority lies in the organized and unilateral adoption of progressive energy practices in the State of California.

Even with solid planning, the regional and statewide challenges that California faces in its efforts for responsible energy management are significant. The CAISO and other deregulated energy market authorities, like the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) will have to work closely to achieve the goals set out by this plan — but the stability and energy savings that a collaborative effort can produce will be well worth it to the Golden State.

To keep up with federal and industry standards for demand response programs and energy efficiency practices, visit ECSGrid.com for downloadable resources and helpful market updates from our energy experts.

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