In mid-August, California faced the largest power outages in its history right amid record heatwaves and unprecedented amount of smoke pollution that obscured the skies as a result of record-breaking forest fires. The scary and sad reality of climate change is that this may be an increasing part of our future. On the other hand, there is a lot that we can do to improve the reliability of our grid, rather than allow our grid reliability to be further weakened.
An opportunity exists right now to throw your support behind an action taken by Californians for Green Nuclear Power (CGNP), a non-profit environmental group in California that has called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, to step in and review the planned retirement of California’s largest single source of clean energy and the only source of firm clean power—Diablo Canyon—as a threat to California’s grid reliability.
(Graph shows California’s vulnerability to outages from wind, solar and gas)
Californians for Green Nuclear Power filed a complaint with FERC in late October asking that they investigate whether the decision shutting down Diablo Canyon violates federal grid reliability standards (EL21-13). The “voluntary”plan to retire Diablo Canyon was a result of prejudicial Renewable Portfolio Standards that, rather than reward PG&E for Diablo Canyon’s clean and reliable energy, penalized PG&E by not accepting allocations of this energy towards the state’s clean energy portfolio, despite Diablo having the most reliable energy in California. This prohibition plus other factors forced PG&E into agreeing to retire the plant in 2025. This was done through a highly politicized process that did not properly analyze the adverse impacts to the reliability of the grid from this closure. PG&E may have succeeded in getting compensated for agreeing to shutter Diablo Canyon but California rate payers will suffer when their grid fails for long periods of time as a result of this closure.
The complaint further alleges that the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), which crafts and enforces the reliability standards for the bulk power system, and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), a regional compliance authority of NERC, “failed to conduct proper oversight or enforce NERC’s reliability standards to prevent reliability standards violations caused by removing [Diablo Canyon’s] 2,240 MW from the California electric grid.”
What you can do to help
CGNP needs your support to get FERC to review the CPUC’s plan. You can write a letter in support and submit it online or join as an intervening party. Directions are below but all submittals have to be done by 5:00 pm EST on November 16, 2020.