June 22, 2017

CHEAPER THAN FREE:

As Solar Pushes Electricity Prices Negative, 3 Solutions for California's Power Grid (LESLIE KAUFMAN, JUN 14, 2017, Inside Climate News)

For a time this spring in California, as the snow melted above hydroelectric dams, the sun shone on solar arrays, and the wind whipped through turbines, the state was confronted with both a blessing and a curse.

It arrived as an overwhelming flood of cheap, clean electricity. At times it drove wholesale prices below zero. And it has left grid operators in California, and in other parts of the country, wondering how to cope with the upending of power markets by abundant renewable energy.

California has led the pack in adding renewable energy to its grid. How it manages the challenges of energy over-abundance may determine whether other states follow in its clean energy footsteps.

Some worry that if California bungles the transition to clean energy, it could undermine the state's own incredibly rapid solar build-out--from 300 megawatts on the grid in 2008 to nearly 15,000 megawatts today--which has put California well ahead of its milestones toward deep decarbonization. 

The crux of the issue that arose this spring is that in the middle of some days, California produced so much renewable energy it drove wholesale electricity prices below zero--what's known as negative pricing.

Posted by at June 22, 2017 6:09 AM

  

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