California’s grid operator this week brushed off recent FERC staff criticism of its handling of last summer’s heat wave that resulted in state-ordered rolling blackouts throughout the nation’s most populous state last Aug. 14-15.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s staff concluded that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) overestimated the capacity available from demand response and renewables. Critics in the industry also speculated that it was an indication the state is relying too much on power from intermittent renewable sources.

CAISO officials told NGI that a proposed FERC technical conference can help clarify and resolve some of the issues raised since the FERC commissioners, on a 2-1 vote, rejected a proposed order to examine whether CAISO’s rules are “unduly discriminatory or preferential” by favoring green resources over natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear.

“We believe the proposed technical conference can enhance transparency into the actions we need to take to ensure electric grid reliability not only for summer operating conditions but in all hours of the year,” said CAISO spokesperson Anne Gonzales.

CAISO’s Department of Market Monitoring filed a report with FERC staff on its activities and pertinent circumstances in play last August. FERC staff indicated that the grid operator calculated wind, solar and demand response resources as greater than were actually available.

Gonzales said CAISO “recognizes and appreciates” FERC’s responsibility to ensure the grid operator’s tariff remains just and reasonable, but it also believes that the “resource adequacy program and market processes must ensure reliable grid operations while we work with policymakers to meet the state’s energy goals.”

She said CAISO will continue to work “expeditiously and in coordination” with other state officials at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Energy Commission (CEC), as well as other local regulatory authorities on a variety of efforts, including resource adequacy and other planning and market design changes. 

Officials at both the CPUC and CEC told NGI their respective agencies had no immediate reaction to FERC’s review.