Utility Dive Quotes Seth Hilton on Need for a Mix of Energy Resources to Prevent Future Rolling Blackouts in California

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Energy attorney Seth Hilton was quoted in Utility Dive in an article titled “California looks to demand-side fixes as ‘a layer of insurance’ to prevent rolling blackouts,” published March 8, 2021. The article discusses two proposals by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) intended to prevent a repeat of the rolling blackouts that affected the state during the summer of 2020.

In February, CPUC directed the state’s investor-owned utilities to procure additional capacity for the summer using any of several options. Although deploying energy storage resources is the preferred strategy of regulators, Hilton noted that several stakeholders have commented that demand response measures present the best opportunity for CPUC to be ready for the summer.

A second proposal released by CPUC on March 5 would, if approved, introduce a new emergency load reduction program, update rate plans to encourage customers to save energy, and modify current demand response programs to increase participation, among other measures.

According to Hilton, out of the options in the February proposal, utilities have made energy storage their focus to meet net peak demand, but he encourages flexibility. “[W]e may need some natural gas as well and considering the alternatives, having some natural gas available to ensure we don’t have outages, that operates for a limited period of time, might be the wisest course,” he said.

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