Speaking before the CADER conference at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego, Keese said "technologies which mitigate energy supply risks and the price risks of conventional fuels... are worth promoting. " As an added benefit, they provide cleaner air and more jobs for California, he said.
He stressed that "distributed power technologies, which include renewable technologies, clearly meet this criteria."
CADER - the California Alliance for Distributed Energy Resources- is a voluntary public/private alliance seeking to bolster the impact of small on-site power sources in California's $23-billion electricity market which opens up to competition in 1998.
Powered by cutting-edge technologies in photovoltaics, fuel cells and advanced turbines, distributed power offers the promise of improved reliability and power quality, as well as protection from lost business productivity in case of major electrical outages along the Western grid.
Keese, citing from a survey conducted by the Energy Commission following the August 10, 1996, power outage said: "Electricity consumers across all sectors want lower prices without sacrificing quality and reliability of service." He added that a significant number of businesses are willing to pay for greater reliability.
Distributed power, according to Keese, "must not necessarily be cost-competitive with existing central station powerplants." Nonetheless, "it must offset any higher cost by providing customers with exactly the reliability they require."
Electrical outages in the summer of 1996, including that on August 10, dimmed revenues for many California firms. One major semiconductor firm chalked up a $1.4 million loss; an Orange County computer manufacturer lost a $1 million production run. And a major oil refinery lost $7 million in petroleum products.
Realizing that not everyone is optimistic about distributed generation, Keese challenged both industry and government to "quantify the benefits of distributed power," and urged the development of guidelines on who should receive those benefits.
"There is a need for the continuous education of regulators, legislators and consumers about distributed resources," Keese said. Local governments and the general public - the level at which distributed resources can make the most dramatic impacts - "can design their own energy infrastructure, selecting distributed resources that best match their land uses."
The Energy Commission is examining the effect of distributed resources on transportation and other energy policies. Keese said the Commission's latest Electricity Report and its State Energy Plan, both currently under development, feature policy statements promoting distributed power.