NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2021 - 05/01/2021/


Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart




      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Friday, April 30, 2021

    World Faces Climate’s Ultimatum

    World on the verge of climate ‘abyss’, as temperature rise continues: UN chief

    19 April 2021 (UN News)

    “…[T]he global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2-degree Celsius above pre-industrial level….[which] is ‘dangerously close’ to the 1.5-degree Celsius limit advocated by scientists to stave off the worst impacts of climate change…[According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) State of the Global Climate, the] six years since 2015, have been the warmest on record, and the decade beginning up to this year, was the warmest ever…

    …[The world is ‘on the verge of the abyss’ and] 2021, ‘must be the year for action’ on] new nationally determined contributions (NDCs)…[because] climate change undermines sustainable development efforts, through a cascading chain of interrelated events that can worsen existing inequalities, as well as raise the potential for feedback loops, perpetuating the deteriorating cycle of climate change…

    …[The WMO reported concentrations of the major greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2019 and 2020, with global average for carbon dioxide concentrations having already exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm)…” click here for more

    Four Ways The World Can Store New Energy

    How can we store renewable energy? 4 technologies that can help

    Victoria Masteron, 23 April 2021 (World Economic Forum)

    “…[If the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing,] four storage technologies are fundamental to smoothing out peaks and dips in energy demand without resorting to fossil fuels…1. Pumped hydro…involves pumping water uphill at times of low energy demand. The water is stored in a reservoir and, in periods of high demand, released through turbines to create electricity…More than half of new hydropower capacity additions in Europe by 2025 will be pumped storage…In China, pumped storage will also account for more than half of new hydropower capacity annually between 2023 and 2025…

    …2. Batteries… convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy…Advances in technology and falling prices mean grid-scale battery facilities that can store increasingly large amounts of energy are enjoying record growth…[in California,] Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK, Lithuania and Chile…3. Thermal energy storage…involves storing excess energy – typically surplus energy from renewable sources, or waste heat – to be used later for heating, cooling or power generation…Liquids – such as water – or solid material - such as sand or rocks - can store thermal energy. Chemical reactions or changes in materials can also be used to store and release thermal energy…Water tanks in buildings are simple examples…

    …4. Mechanical energy storage…harnesses motion or gravity to store electricity…[A] flywheel is a rotating mechanical device that is used to store rotational energy that can be called up instantaneously…Other mechanical systems include compressed air energy storage, which… involves storing pressurised air or gas and then heating and expanding it in a turbine to generate power…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 28, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Grid The Energy Transition Needs

    2021 Outlook: The DER boom continues, driving a 'reimagining' of the distribution system; As new customer-owned resources grow, the old way of delivering them will evolve to make load more flexible.

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 12, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Operating technologies like these will be critical to the energy transition.

    Acceleration of the growth of distributed energy resources (DER) has power system analysts anticipating big changes on utility distribution systems in 2021 and throughout the 2020s. Continued falling prices of DER, ambitious new state and federal policies, and customer demand in 2021 will drive growth, power industry representatives said. And while utility-scale renewables growth will still boom, DER, including rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles (EVs), can be central to protecting reliability, according to a new Southern California Edison (SCE) paper describing the evolution of tomorrow's grid.

    SCE’s Reimagining the Grid "is to help establish where and why we should turn right or turn left in building a distribution system to address evolving needs," said SCE Vice President of Asset Management, Strategy & Engineering Paul J. Grigaux. Those turns "will be determined by the growth of distributed resources and we want to have the system technologies to see and manage their impacts."

    "We're reaching a threshold where distributed energy resources add up to enough megawatts to matter," Brattle Group Principal Ryan Hledik added. "And the idea of managing them in an aggregated coordinated way is being taken more seriously now."

    There is likely to be much more attention in 2021 on proposals like SCE's for a future distribution system that can use DER to provide grid services, other power system analysts agreed. That attention is now needed because the DER are increasingly showing up and will accelerate in the coming year, the analysts said.

    Concrete predictions about growth are difficult only because economies of scale are driving costs down and growth up faster than forecasts can be made, according to DER advocates. Prices continue to steadily fall, the December 2020 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory distributed solar data update confirmed. From approximately $12/watt in 2000, prices had fallen in 2019 to between $2.30/watt and $3.80/watt, depending on system size and market.

    Residential solar 2020 installations were forecast by the 2020 Q4 SEIA-Wood Mackenzie U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, released Dec. 15, to have "13% growth in 2021." And that was before the recent extension of solar’s federal tax credit, which will help drive even greater growth into the early 2020s. The COVID-19 relief bill’s functional extension of the tax credit through 2025 and anticipated further clean energy support from the Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled congress are likely to accelerate distributed solar growth and cost declines, click here for more

    The 50 States of Solar: States Consider Over 120 Bills Related to Distributed Solar Policy in Q1 202

    April 21, 2021 (The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…The NCCETC Q1 2021 edition of The 50 States of Solar found 42 states, plus the District of Columbia, had] state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on distributed solar policy, with a focus on net metering, distributed solar valuation, community solar, residential fixed charges, residential demand and solar charges, third-party ownership, and utility-led rooftop solar programs…[The greatest number of actions were in] continuing to address net metering policies (51), community solar policies (33), and residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases (23). A total of 155 distributed solar policy actions were taken during Q1 2021, with the greatest number of actions taken in South Carolina, California, New York, Maine, and Kentucky…

    The report identifies three trends in solar policy activity taken in Q1 2021: (1) fees based on distributed generation system capacity gaining traction, (2) states revisiting net metering successor tariffs, and (3) states increasing net metering system size limits and aggregate caps…

    …[The top five distributed solar policy actions of Q1 were] Connecticut regulators approving net metering successor tariff designs…New Mexico lawmakers enacting community solar legislation…California utilities and stakeholder filing Net Metering 3.0 proposals…Kansas regulators rejecting Evergy’s proposed distributed generation fees…[and] West Virginia lawmakers passing legislation authorizing third-party solar power purchase agreements…” click here for more

    Monday, April 26, 2021

    Monday Study: Battery Storage Beats NatGas Peakers On Price

    Battery Storage – The New Clean Peaker

    April 2021 (Australian Clean Energy Council)

    Large-scale battery storage is now the superior choice for electricity peaking services, based on cost, flexibility, services to the network and emissions. It is the new clean peaker that Australia needs.

    Batteries can store low-cost, zero-emission, excess renewable energy from the grid to support periods of peak demand with clean, cheap and reliable energy.

    Between 6 and 19 GW of new dispatchable resources are needed across the National Electricity Market by 2040. Batteries are now a prudent choice to meet this level of dispatchable capacity.

    Two- and four-hour batteries outcompete open-cycle gas turbine peakers on both a levelised cost of energy and levelised cost of capacity basis.

    Batteries can provide a premium peaking service in periods of high demand traditionally met by peaking gas plants. Batteries can ramp up quickly, have near zero start-up time and provide a better frequency response.

    The commercial case for batteries will continue to improve as advancements are made with battery technology and new markets are established to reward the services they provide.

    Up-to-date information on battery projects in Australia can be found on the project tracker page on the Clean Energy Council website.

    The National Electricity Market is undergoing an unprecedented transition.

    The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP) anticipates an additional 26 to 50 GW of new large-scale renewable energy generation (depending on the scenario) will be needed in the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2040, supported by between 6 and 19 GW of new dispatchable resources.

    These dispatchable resources will be made up of pumped hydro, large-scale battery energy storage systems, distributed batteries, virtual power plants and other demand-side participation.

    The Role Of Peakers And The Services They Provide

    While the ISP has a limited role for new gas generation, there are some that hold a preference for new gas peakers as the firming support for variable renewable energy generation. Peaking generation plants are generators that can respond in a short timeframe to periods of both expected and unexpected high electricity demand. These generators traditionally have high short-run marginal costs and as such, are only used for short periods in times of sharp increases in demand or peak periods. In the NEM, peaking plants are generally needed for generation after 6.00pm for an average of three to four hours as solar systems ramp down and demand peaks.

    Traditionally, peaking plants have been gas-fired generators due to their ability to begin generating within 15 minutes. The market is now seeing a rapid transition to battery storage systems as a replacement for gas peakers as battery technology has advanced to the point where it can provide faster response for a much lower cost. Battery solutions can serve the same role traditionally performed by gas peakers by discharging when demand (and correspondingly prices) approach peak levels and sustaining output to cover the typical daily peak duration.

    Battery storage, known for its fast and accurate response across numerous energy applications, has improved its capability and cost-effectiveness to become the pre-eminent peaking plant solution for energy grids across the world. The key barrier for batteries has been capital cost, but rapid and continuing cost efficiencies driven by product innovations and manufacturing at scale are reducing this barrier, to the extent that it is no longer economically rational (or necessary) for proponents, investors or governments to build gas peaking plants in Australia

    The Case For Battery Peakers

    Battery storage is the true bridge to a clean energy future, providing a modern, more flexible alternative to gas turbines for meeting peaking and firming needs.

    Premium Peaking Services

    Battery storage offers a ‘premium’ peaking service (faster ramp rate, higher accuracy and better-quality frequency response) and a wider range of network services (including digital inertia, voltage support, system strength and fast frequency response) at lower cost (both upfront capital cost and ongoing operational expenditure) – making it far more suitable to complement increasing levels of variable renewables.

    Optimal Firming Duration

    Batteries have quickly expanded energy capacity to four hours and more, outcompeting gas to play the optimum intraday ‘firming’ role. Given Australia’s existing energy mix and diversity in renewable output, there are very few periods forecast to require more than four hours of storage in the next decade. For interday ‘seasonal’ firming, a combination of different storage technologies will be required in the longer term.

    Emissions Reduction

    By shifting renewable energy through the day, batteries allow for greater uptake of renewable energy technologies while providing system stability and network security services in parallel. On the other hand, there are clear direct emissions from gas peakers.

    Deployment Flexibility

    Batteries offer fast, modular and scalable deployment profiles, and can be deployed in any location on the network. Relative to equivalent gas or pumped hydro developments, batteries have a minimal land footprint and a reduced carbon footprint.

    Diverse Value

    Batteries offer diverse value streams from negative price events (being paid to charge), network services (demand response, system integrity protection, loss factor improvements, voltage stability, investment deferral), proposed market reforms (five-minute settlement) and essential system services (inertia, fast frequency response, premium frequency stability and system strength).

    Guaranteed Technical Life

    As variable renewable generation increases, the cost of operating gas plants goes up due to increased ramping causing more wear-and-tear that will shorten their technical lives. In addition, gas plants require more regular downtime to perform maintenance. In contrast, batteries have higher availability (given less maintenance work is required) and can offer guaranteed fixed power and energy for over 20 years to effectively maintain capacity over the entire useful life.

    Gets Better Over Time

    Battery technology continues to receive new features and functionality updates, making it highly adaptable to new markets and system settings.

    Fuel Independence

    Independence from fossil fuels reduces exposure to commodity price risk and enables the provision of more responsive, lower-cost and carbon-free capacity.

    While the case for battery peakers is compelling, the risks for gas peakers are increasing. For example, the NEM’s move to five-minute settlement from October 2021 is one of the initial market reforms that will undercut gas peaking revenue opportunities – with five-minute timeframes challenging the ability for peaking plants to defend cap contracts and respond to price spikes.

    Historically, gas peakers have relied more heavily on cap contracts (with their longer runtime duration), but cap prices have softened and are not expected to see the same extreme volatility as evidenced in the one or two isolated years since the commencement of Australia’s national market. The lower price outlook for caps is therefore removing much of the future earnings potential for both existing and new build plants. Coupled with increased uncertainty and volatility in input gas fuel prices, unclear supply volumes, carbon risk premiums and broader policy and political sentiments, the case for new gas investments is becoming increasingly challenging.

    Batteries Vs Gas Peakers: Which Is Cheaper?

    Comparing the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) and levelised cost of capacity (LCOC) for a new-build 250 MW gas peaker with new-build 250 MW two-hour and four-hour battery storage systems, all located in New South Wales, grid-scale battery storage systems provide a peaking solution with a lower LCOC than an equivalent new-build open cycle gas turbine plant (OCGT or ‘gas peaker’). Battery storage also provides more than 30 per cent in LCOE savings, with both capital and operational cost advantages (before considering fuel and carbon risks).

    While this analysis does not include NEM dispatch or revenue modelling, from first principles the lower variable operating costs and higher operational agility of battery storage will result in better utilisation and therefore larger market revenues. Battery storage can also generate strong revenues from arbitrage opportunities, even if the average price of electricity declines (or is negative) due to strong growth in renewables. For the assumptions used in this study, please see the Appendix.

    A key sensitivity for gas peakers is the exposure to natural gas price fluctuations. Figure 2 includes a base case of AUD$6.5/GJ (aligning with AEMO’s latest gas supply hub data and verified by independent experts) as well as three sensitivities to account for forecast cost pressures: AUD$7/GJ, AUD$11/GJ and AUD$14/GJ. These sensitivities are based on independent advice suggesting long-run levels below AUD$8/GJ are hard to achieve given cost estimates of new supply.

    Capacity factors also have some influence, however OCGTs would need to triple their typical utilisation to over 30 per cent and benefit from low gas prices to even start to compete.

    Carbon price risk is another known unknown with potentially substantial cost impacts on gas peakers. While not modelled in this analysis, it remains front of mind for policy makers and investors. In reality, by choosing a battery energy storage system, developers can shield themselves from these downside risks and uncertainties.

    Battery storage offers a compelling new technology to serve traditional peaking and firming roles.

    Battery storage outcompetes gas peakers because of its faster reaction time, higher accuracy and flexibility to respond to price variability by both charging and discharging. With the rapid reduction in capital costs complementing its already lower operating costs, battery storage offers this superior performance at much greater commercial value than its gas peaker alternative, and at much lower exposure against future gas, carbon and market reform risk.

    Both two-hour and four-hour battery storage solutions are more cost-competitive than a conventional OCGT peaker – outperforming it on an LCOC and LCOE basis. The competitiveness of battery storage will only increase over time as costs continue to fall, average electricity prices decline as renewable penetration accelerates and natural gas prices remain volatile and at the behest of global market economics. Given these risks and opportunities, developing a new gas peaker in Australia is both irrational and imprudent, exposing shareholders to potential losses, taxpayers to unnecessary debt and electricity customers to high costs.

    Battery storage is the true bridge to a clean energy future and can become the new flexible peaker to accelerate Australia’s transition to sustainable energy. The case for batteries as the new clean peaker is impossible to ignore

    Saturday, April 24, 2021

    Biden Old And Getting It DONE!

    This is Bill’s most vicious attack yet on one of his favorite targets – millennials. But along the way he makes a great case for Joe’s work on covid, climate, and other major issues.From Real Time with Bill Maher via YouTube

    The Fight For New Energy Goes On

    Despite 22 billion dollar climate disasters in the U.S. in 2020, some voices still call for the use of energy sources that aggravate the climate crisis and resist the transition the nation must make to New Energy. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    Tesla’s Second Life Battery Solution

    Tesla’s original mastermind has turned his attention on recycling the valuable parts of EV batteries. From CNBC via YouTube

    Friday, April 23, 2021

    New Energy Buy-In Is Beating Oil and Gas

    Global spending on renewable energy seen to hit US$243 billion in 2021

    Surin Murugiah, April 16, 2021 (The Edge Markets)

    Capital spending on renewable energy is expected to increase 8.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) to US$243 billion in 2021 from US$224 billion in 2020…[T]he oil and gas (O&G) capital expenditure (capex) will grow by only 1.6%, going from US$306 billion in 2020 to US$311 billion this year…[C]ompanies in the sector spent US$422 billion in 2019, compared with only US$177 billion for renewables…

    …[But] spending on renewable energy projects this year will be only 22% lower than that on O&G…[O]nshore wind projects will account for the bulk of spending…[going from US$94 billion in 2020 to] US$100 billion in 2021…[Spending on solar] will rise from US$88 billion to US$96 billion…[Offshore wind] will have the lowest capex, going from US$43 billion to US$46 billion…

    …[From 2019 and 2021, spending on upstream O&G has declined by a compound annual growth rate of 15%... O&G suffered a 23% y-o-y revenue drop…[while wind and solar] grew sales by 18%...” click here for more

    Energy Storage To Drive New Energy Expansion

    Energy Storage Is Now Booming As The World Moves Faster To Renewable Energy

    Matt Bohlsen, April 12, 2021 (Seeking Alpha)

    “…Energy storage adoption is already rapidly accelerating in the USA, up 182% QoQ in Q4 2020. Looking out further, BloombergNEF (BNEF) forecasts a 122x increase in global energy storage from 2018 to 2040…[and] that utility scale energy storage will be the dominant sector, meaning the utility companies that supply grid scale electricity, rather than behind-the-meter residential energy storage. If correct, this means utility energy storage is the area of greatest growth potential…

    …Apart from dams, the most common form of energy storage is using batteries. The most common form of battery by far, for now, is lithium-ion; however, other types such as vanadium redox flow [VRFB], zinc flow and other methods (compressed air, flywheel, thermal, gravitational) also have potential….Demand for USA energy storage increased nearly 182% QoQ in Q4 2020, boosted by demand from utility scale installations…[It will] benefit from the accelerated move towards renewable energy…[which] need energy storage back up to perform at their best…

    Lithium-ion battery costs are falling the fastest due to their need in electric vehicles. Rapid scaling of new gigafactories is leading to falling battery costs at about 18% pa. Lithium-ion batteries have a price advantage over most competitors due to current economies of scale from large scale global production…Battery-pack prices have fallen 18% for every doubling of cumulative manufactured volume…[That is expected to continue] for at least the next 10 years…[and] lead to battery-pack prices of $93/kWh by 2024 and $61/kWh by 2030…[Vanadium redox flow batteries are also expected to scaleand] drop in price…

    …The BNEF New Energy Outlook 2020 forecasts global capacity almost triples and renewables go from 35% in 2019] to 68% in 2050…while fossil-fuel capacity drops from 56% to] just 24%...[with an average $486 billion annual investment in new generation totaling $15.1 trillion by 2050 and] $11 trillion, or 73%, goes to renewables…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Putting Flexibility Into The New Power System

    Two barriers to utility and customer savings with flexible loads and how regulators can help; Utilities, regulators and load flexibility authorities say better distribution system control technologies and compensation are needed to increase use of flexible customer-sited resources.

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 6, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: As policy momentum grows behind transitioning to a power system with a high-penetration of variable renewables, efforts to understand and develop flexibility to balance them are accelerating.

    Utilities' ability to protect reliability in today's rapid transition to variable, distributed generation faces two key barriers and regulators' help is needed to overcome them.

    Advanced demand response (DR) can use the flexibility of customer-owned technologies to meet the balancing challenges of the changing supply mix, regulators and utility executives agreed during an Oct. 20 symposium hosted by The Brattle Group. Utility pilots are revealing what works, but also showing how technology and incentive structures are keeping flexible loads, such as customer-owned solar and smart thermostats, from supporting reliability.

    "Load flexibility can shift energy use to when it costs less, shape energy use to match renewables' availability, and to allow them to meet other system needs," said Minnesota Public Service Matt Schuerger during the symposium. "And it can be a cost-effective solution for reliability by offsetting other investments in generation with lower-cost customer-owned distributed technologies."

    That cost-effectiveness may soon make the flexibility of advanced DR valuable. "As transportation and building electrification initiatives grow, flexibility might become necessary for utilities to manage cost," said symposium co-chair and Brattle Group Principal Ryan Hledik. In fact, "the regulatory approval of grid modernization investments to support electrification, decarbonization, and increase utility revenues could be justified by the cost-effectiveness of flexibility."

    Utility advanced DR pilots are growing, but regulators have only begun to resolve the two key barriers of finding technologies to manage distribution systems and creating incentives for stakeholders, Brattle's symposium revealed. Almost 70% of today's approximately 60 GW of U.S. DR capability comes from traditional commercial-industrial load management, according to a June 2019 Brattle study. But new demand-side smart technologies, utility control and communications technologies could transfer market dominance to residential customers within the next ten years, according to Brattle.

    The resulting nearly 200 GW of cost-effective load flexibility from existing and new DR could meet up to 20% of the estimated 2030 U.S. peak load, avoiding over $15 billion annually in system costs, Brattle found. Existing incentives and technologies can deliver an estimated 40% of the new load flexibility capacity, but the other 60% will require new technology and incentive solutiozns. Thze bulk of the 2030 value will be in avoided capital expenditures for new generation, Brattle estimated… click here for more

    Pumped Hydro – The Big Battery Solution

    This century-old technology could be the key to unlocking America’s renewable energy future; Pumped storage hydro once propped up coal and nuclear power. Now it's essential for a clean, growing grid.

    James Dinneen April 14, 2021 (Popular Science)

    “…To guarantee a smooth, carbon-free supply of electricity despite [wind and solar] variability, the grid requires enormous amounts of energy storage, and projections indicate that the region needs up to 10,000 megawatts of backup reserves to meet 100-percent renewable power goals…[Pumped hydro storage] could help make up some of that looming storage deficit…[P]umped storage hydro taps surplus energy from the grid to push water from a lower reservoir up to a higher one. When utilities need the power back, flows are released through a hydroelectric turbine, generating electricity.

    Some designs use a natural water body for one or both of the reservoirs (called “open loop”), while others circulate water between a pair of standalone reservoirs (called “closed loop”)…Existing pumped storage hydro accounts for about 95 percent of America’s 23,200 megawatts of energy storage capacity. But as power consumption and blackouts escalate, more such projects, big and small, will be needed…Lithium-ion batteries coming online all around the country rarely supply more than 100 megawatts of electricity for more than four hours…Pumped storage hydro systems are only limited by the size of the reservoir…. [A coalition of hydroelectric energy companies and environmentalists agree on] closed-loop designs and the possibility of retrofitting existing dams…[There also may be] interest in smaller (think less than a gigawatt) projects…

    …[Presently, pumped hydro competes] with increasingly cheap lithium-ion battery storage, which can be installed anywhere and provides the kind of short-duration backup the market currently values…[But] at a certain level of renewable penetration—around 80 percent, depending on the mix of sources—the short-duration storage provided by batteries will be inadequate to support the grid…” click here for more

    Monday, April 19, 2021

    San Diego Gas & Electric’s Industry-Leading Plan To Fight Wildfires

    San Diego Gas & Electric Company 2020‐2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update San Diego Gas & Electric Company 2020‐2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update

    February 5, 2021 (San Diego Gas and Electric)

    Executive Summary

    The COVID‐19 pandemic, as well as social and political unrest, all presented significant societal challenges in 2020, while catastrophic wildfires continued to threaten communities and the environment during the year. In fact, the scale and scope of California wildfires in 2020 occurred at an unprecedented level. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) website reports that the 2020 August Complex Fire burned over one million acres, making it the largest wildfire in California history. Indeed, five of the six largest fires in California history occurred in 2020. Unfortunately, these wildfires caused deaths and the destruction of property and natural resources.

    In San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s (SDG&E or Company) service territory, the most significant fire of 2020 was the Valley Fire, burning 16,390 acres and causing significant property damage, as well as the interruption of electric service after burning 119 wood poles. While the ignition of the Valley Fire, and many of the other major fires of 2020, were not linked to utility equipment, these fires and their consequences nevertheless reinforce the continued importance of taking dramatic action to mitigate the risk of climate change‐driven catastrophic wildfires in California, including potential utility‐caused wildfires.

    Safety is SDG&E’s top value, and virtually no activity implicates safety more than wildfire prevention. SDG&E has focused on wildfire prevention and mitigation activities for more than a decade, and it strives to be the industry leader in this area. In the aftermath of the catastrophic October 2007 wildfires in SDG&E’s service territory and across Southern California, SDG&E dedicated itself to revamping and enhancing its wildfire prevention and mitigation measures across a wide spectrum of disciplines and activities. Many of the initiatives described in this 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update (WMP or Plan), such as hardening the overhead electric system, are an outgrowth of the efforts that began after the October 2007 wildfires. And many of those initiatives were undertaken without any precedent or road map for SDG&E to follow.

    A prime example is SDG&E’s ability to forecast fire danger. SDG&E developed an in‐house meteorology team to forecast fire danger and enable the Company to undertake advanced preparations for severe weather events. SDG&E built the first of its kind network of dense, utility‐owned weather stations to provide detailed weather data across the service territory, which informs day‐to‐day operational decision‐making at all levels of the Company. Additionally – and as a last resort when conditions warrant – SDG&E pioneered the use of de‐ energization (i.e., Public Safety Power Shutoffs or PSPS) to protect public safety from major wildfires. SDG&E openly shared its experience, lessons learned, and technological advancements in weather and wildfire mitigation with other investor‐owned utilities (IOUs), state agencies, and stakeholders in the fire community, with the objective of improving wildfire prevention across California and the West.

    An effective wildfire mitigation program includes a safe and hardened electrical grid that is rigorously inspected and maintained. Informed by meteorological data, SDG&E developed xi design standards by considering the localized wind conditions for grid hardening. While SDG&E utilized PLS‐CADD design tools for its transmission line designs for many years, it began applying this tool to its grid hardening work for its distribution system, which improved modeling and designs.

    SDG&E also developed the Wildfire Risk Reduction Model (WRRM) to enable risk assessment and prioritize its distribution grid hardening approach. SDG&E has shared this work with other utilities, which has led to a similar statewide approach. The WRRM Operations (WRRM‐Ops) tool was developed in recent years advancing the use of the WRRM model to understand fire propagation and is used during live fire incidents. In the last year and in order to reduce PSPS impacts to SDG&E’s customers, grid hardening has included strategic undergrounding of the distribution system in the High Fire Threat District (HFTD) and instituting generator programs for some of the customers experiencing PSPS events.

    In addition, an effective wildfire mitigation program requires a wildfire safety culture that values life‐safety over reliability, and partners with stakeholders in public safety, academia, and the private sector, to form a fire‐safe community. Community collaboration and customer outreach are essential. SDG&E has continued its culture of engagement with the communities who live in the HFTD through conducting Wildfire Safety Fairs and community meetings. Outreach and collaboration with community safety partners led to the development of robust communications and a camera network to assist fire agencies serving in the HFTD areas. Among the many stakeholder collaboration activities, SDG&E established a Wildfire Safety Community Advisory Council (WSCAC) comprised of leaders from the following groups in the San Diego region: public safety partners, communications and water service providers, local and tribal government officials, business groups, non‐profits, Access and Functional Needs (AFN) and vulnerable communities, and academic organizations. These meetings are held quarterly and are highly regarded as an effective means to discuss wildfire issues and receive input from WSCAC members on relevant emerging community issues on wildfire safety and preparedness.

    SDG&E continues to innovate and improve wildfire mitigation initiatives to keep its communities safe through situational awareness, prevention, communication, and collaboration. Despite an unusually challenging year, SDG&E advanced its wildfire mitigation initiatives in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021, as highlighted below.

    Risk Assessment and Mapping

    SDG&E continues its ongoing development and implementation of the WRRM and WRRM Ops models that began in collaboration with Technosylva in 2013. These models have become a template for the development of similar models across the state…

    Situational Awareness and Forecasting

    As a result of the hottest summer on record, well below normal rainfall, and nine Red Flag Warnings issued for the SDG&E service territory, the risk of catastrophic wildfires was significant in 2020. Due to fire weather conditions in 2020, SDG&E initiated an above‐normal number of PSPS events. But SDG&E was well prepared for the weather and climate‐driven events of 2020 through the significant enhancements it made to its situational awareness and forecasting capabilities before the start of the season. SDG&E’s weather station network, the world’s first utility‐owned network of its kind, is foundational to SDG&E’s ability to understand and predict the potential impact of extreme fire weather events and the localized impacts on the communities in the service territory. In 2020, SDG&E installed 30 additional weather stations, which was the largest expansion of the network since 2011, increasing the footprint to 220 stations…

    Grid Design and System Hardening

    SDG&E’s grid hardening initiatives began after the 2007 fires in its service territory. Since then, SDG&E has completed over 400 miles of transmission lines and over 800 miles of distribution lines. With a focus on wildfire risk and reducing PSPS impacts, there were several grid hardening accomplishments in 2020. Overhead hardening continued to progress with the completion of 48.8 miles of transmission and 157.6 miles of distribution. After developing the required work methods and construction standards, two miles of covered conductor were installed, paving the way for more installations in future years…

    Asset Management and Inspections

    To prevent wildfires and safely operate its grid, SDG&E conducts various mandated and discretionary asset management and inspection programs to enable identification and repair of equipment conditions. These programs include detailed cyclical inspections, infrared inspections, intrusive wood pole inspections, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) surveys, additional HFTD Tier 3 focused inspections, drone inspections, annual aerial and ground patrols, and quality assurance of inspections. New programs in 2020 included the drone inspections on the distribution and transmission grid, and infrared inspections on the distribution system. SDG&E completed drone inspections on approximately 1,450 transmission structures and over 37,000 distribution structures. SDG&E completed infrared inspections on the distribution xiv system for approximately 13,000 distribution structures. These new programs allowed SDG&E to more thoroughly assess the condition of its facilities.

    Vegetation Management and Inspections

    SDG&E continues to enhance its vegetation management activities. In 2020, the vegetation management program continued its success by conducting the activities of tracking and maintaining its database of inventory trees, routing and enhanced patrolling, pruning and removing hazardous trees, replacing unsafe trees with species compatible with powerlines, and pole brushing. This resulted in inspections of over 451,000 trees, trimming over 173,000 trees, and removing over 10,000 trees. This was the first complete year SDG&E pursued the enhanced clearance of up to 25 feet for targeted species, leading to over 13,000 trees trimmed and over 3,900 trees removed in the HFTD. SDG&E completed pole brushing on over 36,000 poles.

    Grid Operations and Protocols

    When an elevated or extreme fire weather conditions are forecasted, SDG&E remotely enables Sensitive Relay Profile (SRP) on its system, which is designed to make dynamic protective devices such as reclosers and circuit breakers more sensitive to faults on the overhead distribution system and activate quickly to interrupt power. SDG&E pre‐identifies and maintains a list of these devices and can quickly communicate with its distribution operations control center to enable SRP when conditions warrant and in observance of wildfire safety efforts. Enhancements to this process include generating a tool that supports a yearly analysis of every device in Tier 2 or Tier 3 of the HFTD to flag SRP setpoints that need to be verified due to changing load. In 2020, reviews and updates were also completed to maintain optimal operational logic for SRP. An additional enhancement was made to improve the configuration management process and consolidate the baselining of distribution line‐side settings into a single tool we use for other settings management. These enhancements provide a means to further ensure a safer grid…After a Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service, SDG&E follows customer notification cadences mandated by the Commission…To compliment the above traditional means of notification, SDG&E launched several new ways to notify and communicate with its customers in 2020…

    • Alerts by SDG&E PSPS phone application

    • Leveraging the Nextdoor app/platform

    • Changeable and moveable roadside signs

    • Tribal Nation casino and school marquees

    • Enhanced AM radio spots..

    • Expanded partnerships with 2‐1‐1 San Diego and 2‐1‐1 Orange County…

    Data Governance

    SDG&E’s data governance initiatives encompass both its enterprise‐wide efforts and efforts specific to wildfire mitigation and prevention. The enterprise‐wide initiative seeks to build a central data repository and establish an asset data foundation integrating key asset‐related attributes to enable predictive health analyses and risk modeling and improve inspection/assessment strategies and prioritization…

    Resource Allocation Methodology

    SDG&E’s resource allocation process is best described in terms of an enterprise‐level methodology and a program‐level methodology…

    Emergency Planning and Preparedness

    SDG&E’s Emergency Management department coordinates safe and effective emergency preparedness for the Company, customers, and emergency response personnel. To respond appropriately to any incident while adhering to the COVID‐19 conditions, SDG&E’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) developed a new response approach in 2020 consisting of tiered staffing plans, with a largely virtual response…

    Stakeholder Cooperation and Community Engagement

    SDG&E recognizes that collaboration, best practice sharing, and the exchange of lessons learned is of the utmost importance to protect public safety. SDG&E regularly solicits feedback from communities it serves in an effort to identify gaps…

    Saturday, April 17, 2021

    Time To Bring New Energy Home

    What customers want is important to utilties. Surveys show some need to hear more from the people they serve. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

    The Return Of Big Solar

    This exciting concept has not succeeded in the past because of cost and technical barriers, but it deserves more attention. Particle power may be the solution. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    New Ways To Get At Geothermal

    The opportunity has always been there, but now it’s getting easier to get at the earth's deep heat. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    Friday, April 16, 2021

    Paying Fairer Shares In The Climate Fight

    What a fair climate target looks like for the US, the largest historical carbon emitter Biden is about to announce a new 2030 climate target. Will it go far enough? Lili Pike, April 9, 2021 (VOX)

    “… [To reassure the world that the US takes the climate threat seriously, the Biden] administration is considering a goal to cut emissions somewhere between 48 and 53 percent from 2005 levels by 2030…[and] many recent studies show it is within reach…[But a new report finds the US responsibility should be reductions in 2030 of] 195 percent…[to contribute] ‘fair share’ toward tackling climate change, as the world’s largest historical emitter and wealthiest nation…

    ...[It] stretches the imagination compared to other proposals…But that’s the point…[O]nce carbon dioxide molecules enter the atmosphere, they linger for hundreds of years — so past emissions are still very much shaping the trajectory of global warming…

    …[T]he new report also proposed a corresponding financial commitment…[of] somewhere in the order of $1.6 trillion by 2030….Just reaching 50 percent cuts will require a significant economy-wide effort, including phasing out all US coal plants by 2030…” click here for more

    New Energy Can Improve Global Health Care

    Will Renewable Energy Transform Health Care?

    Jane Marsh, April 12, 2021 (AltEnergyMag)

    “…Renewables can benefit any industry, but their impact on the medical sector could be transformative. The efficiency and flexibility of renewable energy could make healthcare more affordable and accessible on top of the usual sustainability improvements…The sector accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., thanks to its massive energy needs…[And medical] organizations generate a considerable amount of waste…Renewable energy won’t lessen the waste problem, but it will help mitigate its impact... With renewables, hospitals would generate much of their own energy instead of buying it from a utility company…

    …[S]olar windows can generate green power while providing more natural light. Studies show that patients exposed to natural light take 22% less pain medication per hour… [That] could make treatment more affordable…Solar panels and turbines don't require a connection to an electrical grid, making energy more flexible…[allowing] care in remote areas away from reliable electrical infrastructure…[and providing] backup energy for those without a reliable grid…[making health care] far more accessible…[Solar-powered refrigeration can allow the safe transport of vaccines and other] sensitive medical supplies safely…If more medical organizations embraced renewable energy, the industry would become more sustainable, affordable, accessible, and responsive…” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Differences Between Energy Markets

    Want to know how to pick an energy market? Watch the Mountain West power providers; Xcel Colorado just joined California’s imbalance market, SPP will offer imbalance services, and researchers have proposed a Colorado-centric system, but what do power providers want?

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 4, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, both CAISO and SPP have accelerated their efforts and added participants.

    In the race between system operators to capture power providers in the rich Mountain West energy market from New Mexico to Idaho, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) took the lead in 2020, but two competitors are at its heels.

    CAISO pulled ahead of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) by adding Xcel Energy's Colorado subsidiary to its Western real-time balancing market and filing its initial proposal for expanding to day-ahead trading during the summer. But SPP recently won approval from federal regulators for a Western real-time market to expand its regional system. And some Colorado power providers want their own market.

    A January Brattle Group study showing "greater potential to lower production costs" for Xcel in CAISO's energy imbalance market (EIM) than in SPP's proposed energy imbalance service (EIS) was decisive in its choice of CAISO, Xcel Energy - Colorado President Alice Jackson said. But CAISO's day-ahead market is undefined, SPP's WEIS is not yet fully defined, and "a single market solution for Colorado would be preferable," she acknowledged.

    Economic pressures and policy initiatives driving traditional generation closures and variable renewables growth make an imbalance market for the West's 39 balancing areas necessary, power providers and stakeholders said. But SPP and CAISO offerings are just emerging, and some in Colorado say a single state marketplace for Colorado power providers would be wiser until other options are defined with more certainty.

    President-elect Biden is committed to meeting climate challenges and national policy is building from the states toward clean energy and zero emissions targets, Western Grid Group Managing Director Amanda Ormond said. "To meet those goals, utilities need to be part of . The only bad option is not choosing one."

    With major utilities in the Southeast and the Mountain West now moving to seize the economic and reliability opportunities that power markets offer, the decision by Mountain West policymakers, power providers and stakeholders on which path to take could be instructive about what market structures most effectively offer those opportunities… click here for more

    Biden Admin To Ensure Jobs Plan Protects Equity – DOE Head

    Granholm: American Jobs Plan will prioritize communities struggling with loss of coal, oil and gas jobs

    Emma Penrod, April 9, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    “…[The federal government will] ensure new clean energy jobs will benefit communities suffering from the loss of conventional coal, oil or gas jobs, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said…[Michigan's economic pivot to producing electric vehicles and batteries during her tenure as governor showed] investment in clean energy infrastructure could do the same for other U.S. communities…

    The jobs plan calls for an immediate $50 million investment in transportation projects, the expansion of high-speed wireless service to 98% of the nation's residents, and the creation of a $10 billion National Infrastructure Bank to fund additional public works as needed…[Granholm said] it is important that 40% of the benefits of the American Jobs Plan go to communities currently being left behind or that have historically borne the heath consequences of fossil energy generation…

    The American Jobs Act will target coal, oil and natural gas producing areas with projects to reduce emissions and to deploy carbon capture and hydrogen demonstration projects…The Biden administration could, through its federal purchasing power, mandate certain employment targets or job training requirements…The DOE's loan office could also set similar standards…[and] the Biden administration could prioritize particular census tracts for competitive grants and tax credits…” click here for more

    Monday, April 12, 2021

    SoCalEdison’s Newest Plan To Mitigate Wildfires

    Southern California Edison 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update

    February 5, 2021 (SCE)

    Executive Summary

    Southern California Edison Company is dedicated to the safety of our customers and the communities we serve. In this report, we set forth our update to the Commission-approved 2020-2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP). Our 2021 WMP Update builds on the successes of our WMP implementation to date, incorporates the lessons we learned during WMP deployment and reflects the continued progress we made in our analytical, engineering and process maturity in 2020.

    In recent years, Californians have increasingly experienced unprecedented and destructive wildfires that have threatened their lives, livelihoods and communities. 2020 was the worst year on record, with nearly 10,000 fires burning over 4.2 million acres and consuming about 4% of all land in California, which served as a stark reminder that evolving climate change brings more extreme weather and impacts. Prolonged periods of high temperatures and drought, record-high winds and lightning storms, significant buildup of dry fuel, and continued development in the wildland urban interface are increasing the number of wildfires and making them more dangerous. Action, collaboration and partnership among utilities, regulators, communities, agencies and other stakeholders focused on reducing the probability and consequence of wildfires continue to be of paramount importance.

    Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we met or exceeded nearly all the goals in our 2020 plan. We installed over 960 circuit miles of covered conductor, over 6,000 fire-resistant poles and 590 weather stations while removing more than 12,200 hazard trees that could fall into power lines and lead to ignitions.

    Our 2021 WMP Update proposes:

    • Additional grid hardening,

    • Enhanced inspection and repair programs,

    • Continuation of aggressive vegetation management,

    • Increased situational awareness and response, and

    • Augmented activities for Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) resilience and community engagement, particularly for underrepresented groups and our access and functional needs (AFN) customers.

    This WMP update also outlines how we have matured in our wildfire mitigation capabilities and our longterm plan to further advance our risk-informed decision-making, data management, grid hardening and community engagement before, during and after wildfire-related events.

    While we have made considerable progress, we continue to look for opportunities to improve. We want to thank California’s leadership — lawmakers and various agency personnel — for addressing this critically important public safety issue. We are proud of our partnership with local governments, first responders and the general public, who have come together to further reduce the risk of potentially devastating wildfires.


    The primary objective of our WMP is to safeguard public safety. This update includes an actionable, measurable and adaptive plan for 2021 and 2022 to reduce the risk of potential wildfire-causing ignitions associated with our electrical infrastructure in high fire risk areas (HFRA).

    At the same time, we are intensely aware of the impact of planned WMP work and PSPS events on our customers and communities, especially when compounded with the restrictions and disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our WMP aims to strike the appropriate balance between mitigating the risk of wildfires and these inevitable challenges, and we are committed to enhanced transparency, communication, coordination and resiliency to help mitigate the hardships caused by de-energization events.

    Other key objectives of our WMP include:

    • Increasing the resilience of our infrastructure to help minimize service disruptions during fires, regardless of ignition source

    • Improving fire agencies’ ability to detect and respond to emerging fires

    • Improving coordination between utility, state and local emergency management personnel

    • Reducing the impact of wildfires and wildfire mitigation efforts, including PSPS

    • Effectively engaging the public about preparing for, preventing, and mitigating wildfires in our HFRA

    In 2020, we successfully concluded or operationalized several WMP activities. 1 We have also added seven activities based on updated engineering assessments, ignition risk analysis and community feedback. Our 2021 WMP Update includes 39 activities that underscore our commitment to allocate significant resources to further reduce the risk of wildfires and support our communities. 2 We highlight some of the key activities for each of our wildfire mitigation capabilities below that were, in part, shaped by the successes and lessons learned since we started our targeted wildfire mitigation efforts in 2018.

    Grid Design and System Hardening: Expanded Measures Are Expected to Further Reduce Wildfire Risk From Overhead Electric Systems…

    Asset Management and Inspections: Structures Responsible for 99% of the Wildfire Risk Will Be Inspected…

    Vegetation Management: New Platform Will Increase Efficiency and Enable Advanced Analytics…

    Situational Awareness and Weather Forecasting: Additional Weather Stations, Satellite Imagery and Advanced Technology Will Boost Capabilities…

    Grid Operations and Protocols: Resources Dedicated to Refining Circuit-Specific Measures…

    Emergency Planning and Preparedness: Trained Workforce Is Ready to Restore Power and Assist Customers…

    Stakeholder Cooperation and Community Engagement: Strong Partnerships Increase Outreach to Hardto Reach Customer Groups, Provide Aerial Resources for Fire Agencies…

    Risk Assessment and Mapping: Improved Risk Models and Incorporating PSPS Risks Will Help Prioritize Work Even More Effectively…

    Resource Allocation Methodology: Risk Analysis Along with Operational Considerations Help Us Direct Our Resources…

    Data Governance: Focus on Data Quality Will Enable Next-Generation Geospatial and Risk Analytics and Automated Processing of Inspection Images…


    PSPS is a necessary mitigation to protect public safety under extreme conditions that we use as a last resort. We recognize and appreciate the impact of PSPS events on our customers. Keeping the lights on, and everything else electricity powers, is in our DNA, and we do not take lightly any decision to proactively de-energize portions of the grid. Though the frequency and scope of PSPS events are expected to lessen as we execute our WMP activities, PSPS will have to remain available as a tool to mitigate wildfire risk during severe weather and high Fire Potential Index events. In 2019 and 2020, our post-patrols found approximately 60 incidents of wind-related damage that could have potentially caused ignitions, and there were likely many more that could not be observed after the events.

    Our highly trained PSPS IMT plans and executes our PSPS protocols designed to maximize effectiveness while reducing the negative impacts to customers, by limiting de-energizations to specific circuit segments and facilitating the swift and safe restoration of power. In 2020, we transitioned to a dedicated IMT model for knowledge continuity and operational consistency from event to event and to help focus on continuous improvement between events.

    By all accounts, 2020 was an extreme weather and fire season. In fact, five of the six largest wildfires in California’s history took place last year and average rainfall totals across Central and Southern California remained 50%-75% below normal through mid-January 2021. Such drought conditions, coupled with exceedingly low fuel moisture and very strong wind gusts, increased the risk for ignition and spread of catastrophic wildfires, putting us on alert for, and at times necessitating, PSPS events. Firefighting resources were strained in our service area and across the state, and the dry fuels accumulation increased the potential consequence of any ignition. The threats posed by these abnormal weather conditions meant that many customers were affected on multiple occasions, including holidays and while customers were trying to work and attend classes from home in compliance with stay-at-home orders.

    Despite the adverse conditions, 2020 demonstrated the extraordinary efforts of the women and men of our company to prepare for and conduct necessary PSPS to protect life and property, partner with communities, fire agencies and other stakeholders and support our customers in time-tested, novel and sometimes individualized ways. Compared to 2019, we were able to reduce the average duration of PSPS events by 33% and customer minutes of interruption by 22%. Of the circuits de-energized in 2019, 46% did not experience PSPS in 2020. We also considerably increased utilization of sectionalization devices to limit the scope of PSPS and the largest event in 2020 impacted 38% fewer customers than the largest event in 2019.

    We are investing in enhanced circuit mitigations, customer care, external communication, notification processes and technologies. This includes expanding circuit-specific grid hardening and PSPS mitigation plans, especially for frequently impacted circuits. For example, our current plans for 2021 include installation of covered conductor on more than 100 circuit segments that were de-energized during PSPS events. We are assessing potential expansion of this scope. We are also refining our PSPS thresholds informed by improved weather and fire modeling along with completed grid hardening. In 2020, we contracted with 56 Community Resource Centers, an increase of 300% over 2019, and deployed eight Community Crew Vehicles to provide information and services to customers during PSPS de-energization events and will continue to provide this support in 2021. In this upcoming year, we are expanding our customer care portfolio to better support Medical Baseline customers and help with community resiliency zones. We are redesigning our grid protocols and customer notifications processes to address specific concerns and feedback from county partners and are collaborating with heavily impacted communities for education, outreach and critical infrastructure planning support to help other entities providing critical services be more resilient as well.

    Of the customers who experienced PSPS de-energizationsin 2020, approximately 27,000 fewer customers are expected to experience PSPS events in 2021 under the same weather conditions. Almost half of these customers are not expected to experience PSPS again.

    Notwithstanding improved PSPS operations, more of our customers experienced PSPS de-energizations in 2020 largely due to weather, and our communication efforts did not meet the needs and expectations of our customers and agency partners. In light of recent feedback, we are taking a fresh and hard look at finding ways to further reduce PSPS de-energizations and meet community and regulatory expectations in terms of sharing our PSPS decision-making approach; keeping our customers informed more effectively; improving communication and coordination with regulators, local governments, fire agencies and other partners; and providing our customers, especially Medical Baseline and AFN customers, with more resiliency options and financial help. The action plan we submit on Feb. 12, 2021 will provide details on the concrete steps we will take to deliver tangible improvements. We can and will do better going forward.


    We have made great strides in developing our wildfire mitigation capabilities, going beyond minimum regulatory requirements in several key areas, increasingly relying on data and advanced analytics to plan and prioritize resource allocation for wildfire risk mitigation and establishing robust operational processes for planning, preparedness and stakeholder engagement. For example, we have incorporated risk, as determined by predictive modeling of equipment failure and consequences, to schedule inspections. We are maintaining our advanced capabilities in several areas, including emergency planning and preparedness. One of the critical areas we are focusing on this year and the near future is better data management, advanced analytics and automation that will be foundational to our continued progress in grid hardening, asset management, vegetation management and grid operations among other activities…


    Metrics and underlying data are critical components for WMP development, execution and evaluation, but we continue to emphasize that the near-term focus should be on efficient implementation of our planned activities, while the assessment of whether the activities are having the desired and expected impact on risk reduction should be measured over a longer time horizon. A clear distinction is necessary between metrics that can help monitor compliance with approved WMPs and those that can help evaluate the effectiveness of these approved plans and inform future WMP updates…


    Our understanding of wildfire and PSPS risks and the efforts we need to undertake to effectively mitigate these risks has evolved over the last year based on new information and stakeholder feedback and 14 analysis, as discussed above. The scope and cost forecasts for 2021 and 2022 in this update are therefore different from what we set forth in our 2021 General Rate Case (GRC) filed in August 2019 and our 2020 WMP submitted in February 2020. We remain flexible to incorporate the guidance in our pending 2021 GRC Decision and hope and expect that the cost recovery mechanism approved there will reflect the dynamic scope of activities envisioned by the WMP annual update and change order processes. We will continue to reevaluate asset- and location-specific risks, benefits and mitigation needs, and will modify or adjust our plan accordingly to better utilize constrained resources and funds for risk reduction. Though regulatory and stakeholder expectations regarding wildfire mitigation continue to increase, we are always looking for operational efficiencies, and that aim — to prudently execute the appropriate scope of work — is no different for our wildfire mitigation activities.

    Finally, as evidenced in 2020, unexpected challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic may require us to change the work we do and how we do it, and we commit to vigilance and flexibility to meet emergent needs of our customers and the grid that serves them.


    The 2020 wildfire season clearly demonstrated the continued urgency of wildfire prevention, response and emergency preparedness. Our employees work hard to help protect our customers and communities from the threat of wildfires. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we met or exceeded nearly all the goals in our 2020 plan.

    At the same time, we know there are areas for improvement and more work to be done. Our 2021 WMP Update builds upon our Grid Safety and Resilience Plan, previous WMPs and our 2021 GRC proposal, incorporating progress made and lessons learned regarding wildfire mitigation since 2018. It includes additional inspections and remediations in targeted areas based on emergent fire weather conditions, augmenting our system hardening activities to target higher-risk conductor spans, switches and hardware, providing aerial fire-suppression resources such as helitankers to fire agencies and establishing central data platforms for next-generation data analytics and governance. It provides a plan that effectively demonstrates prudent operation of the grid and customer care with measurable and actionable targets.

    We are committed to finding opportunities to reduce the impacts of PSPS events on our customers. With another year of PSPS data to work with, we will continue to review opportunities to accelerate mitigations for circuits that are frequently subject to PSPS events so we can reduce the size, frequency and duration of these events. We will be expanding our battery backup program to include all income-qualified Medical Baseline customers in addition to critical care customers. Community outreach will continue, especially to AFN customers, emphasizing both PSPS readiness and emergency preparedness.

    We look forward to continuing to work with state policymakers, local government officials, CBOs and other stakeholders to build a more resilient California…