CPUC Adopts Action Plan to Facilitate ‘Forefront’ Distributed Energy Resources Policy

California aims to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2045. Image: Sunrun.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has adopted a new plan that will serve as a roadmap for shaping the future of distributed energy resources, including solar power and rooftop energy storage, in California.

Designed to improve coordination in areas such as network planning, load flexibility, and customer programs, the plan was released in anticipation of a high-DER future in the state.

Given trends such as the growth of solar power and behind-the-meter (BTM) storage and commitments to increase transportation and building electrification, the CPUC said now is the time to prepare a new DER action plan as California moves forward in its efforts to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2045.

Having completed most of the action items of the first action plan, covering the period 2016-2020, the CPUC said it was now following up “to facilitate forward-thinking DER policy”.

“The updated plan will help align the CPUC’s vision and actions to maximize the economic and societal values ​​of an anticipated high-DER future, while ensuring affordable and fair rates,” said the Commissioner of the CPUC, Darcie Houck.

Serving as a roadmap for CPUC decision makers and staff, the action plan will advance the agency’s vision for DERs in California through four tracks: load flexibility and tariffs, grid infrastructure, integration of market and customer programs.

According to the plan, policies and trends that point to a future with sustained high DER growth include a California Energy Commission report that predicts a 260% increase in behind-the-meter solar generation in the state of 2019 to 2030, during which BTM’s energy storage capacity is expected to increase by 770%.

This is in addition to the demand stemming from California’s proposal to have 100% of new cars and trucks sold in the state be zero emissions by 2035.

The publication of the DER plan comes after the CPUC decided in February to indefinitely delaying a decision on net metering changes in California. Dubbed NEM 3.0, the proposals would have reduced solar export credits by about 80% and added a fixed charge of $57 per month for the average residential system, partially offset by a credit of $15 per month for ten years.

A group of California congressmen have since written to the CPUC urging it to rethink net metering changes and demanding a “drastically revised policy”.