How California Can Avoid Throwing Away Solar Energy

Why would anyone even consider shutting down as much as 80 percent of California’s giant solar power plants, which cost virtually nothing to run and emit no pollution? They also have enough capacity at any given minute to power up more than 7 million households, and solar power is crucial to meeting our renewable energy goals of 33 percent by 2020 and half by 2030.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) isn’t anti-solar; turning off renewable generation is a last resort. The problem is that during an increasing number of hours there isn’t enough electricity demand within the state to absorb all our renewable energy production.  Without better integration of the western grid, California’s renewable energy is too often blocked from willing buyers outside the state, and the problem is getting steadily worse.

The solution lies in a transition to a fully integrated western grid in which the balancing authorities are consolidated and all generators have full competitive access to electricity buyers across 15 states, two Canadian provinces, and parts of Mexico.

 

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