For Immediate Release: May 31, 2023
7,000 MW goal could power up to 7 million homes by 2030
SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a new goal today to make up to 7,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity available through the smarter use of existing clean energy resources. The target represents a doubling of current levels and is enough electricity to power up to 7 million homes by 2030 without new power plants.
Required by Senate Bill 846 (Dodd, 2022), the load shifting or load flexibility goal refers to a suite of efforts that offer incentives to customers to shift their electricity use (or load) to times of the day when it’s cheapest and cleanest. This includes programs like time-of-use rates that price electricity to encourage optimal use, and programs referred to as “demand response” that allow customers to earn money by reducing use on an ongoing basis when demand is high and during emergencies when the grid is strained.
“Smarter electricity use through voluntary programs that help Californians better manage energy use is a critical piece of the state's clean energy transition plan, and it already pays to participate,” said CEC Vice Chair Siva Gunda, lead commissioner for demand response. “Most importantly, these efforts allow us to tap into our collective electricity resources to avoid running fossil fuel power plants during grid emergencies and protect vulnerable populations nearby.”
The 7,000 MW goal complements the 38,000 MW of new clean electricity resources the state projects to need by 2030. It was developed in consultation with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO), for a report based on research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The report also discusses the current landscape of flexible demand in California and details policy recommendations to help achieve the new goal.
“I appreciate the agency collaboration in setting this critical goalpost,” said CPUC President Alice Reynolds. “Doubling our potential for load shifting by the end of the decade will increase resiliency and maximize the potential for a more flexible energy system that better responds to grid conditions.”
The work builds on updated standards the CEC adopted last year to help customers take better advantage of utilities’ lower time-dependent rates so smart appliances and buildings can automatically respond to rates that reflect electricity grid conditions. This includes smart home systems, thermostats, water heaters, electric vehicle chargers and pool pumps.
“This new goal is another important step towards realizing California’s vision of a smart and automated grid,” said CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister, lead commissioner for energy efficiency and load management. “We are committed to working with our CPUC partners to further align rates and incentives to strengthen the grid, make best use of abundant renewable energy resources and deliver energy bill savings.”
How Consumers Can Participate and Save Money
Consumers should check with their electric utilities for programs that reduce energy costs or offer credits for shifting usage including time-of-use rate plans. Several demand response programs offer incentives to conserve on an ongoing basis. Learn about what's available on the CPUC’s website.
To get paid to conserve during emergencies, residential customers of the state’s largest electric utilities and community choice aggregators can sign up to participate in the Power Saver Rewards program. When the program is activated, participants receive a $2 electric bill credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they save as compared to their normal use.
Business customers can enroll in a similar program called the Emergency Load Reduction Program. The Demand Side Grid Support (DSGS) Program is another option for large customers that provide load reduction and backup generation to support the state’s electrical grid during extreme events such as heat waves, wildfires and high winds.
About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.