Topics: Transitioning to a Safe & Clean Electrical Grid - Resiliency, Reliability, Equality = Community Based Microgrids
On this episode of Solutions News we are talking about reliability, safety & resiliency in our electrical grid, and how we might cure California’s current power problems in a way that gets us off fossil fuels, addresses environmental and economic injustice, and also build resilient communities across the state. The answer is simple, we have the technology, we have the know how. All we lack is the political will. Our guest is Lorenzo Kristov, PhD -who has spent his career focusing on power system transition to integrate high levels of renewable generation and distributed energy resources (DER).He’s truly one of the visionary leaders in the field of grid systems design, and we are very excited to share his wisdom with our audience today.
As residents of California feel record-breaking effects of wildfires and rolling blackouts across the state from abnormal heat waves, independent electrical systems are unable to supply power for the first time in about 20 years and forced power outages for thousands of customers during some of the hottest days on record. However, California microgrids showed their heroic resourcefulness when multiple microgrids provided power to their owners and community members. Microgrids are essential to transition to clean, renewable, and reliable energy to combat climate change related impacts such as energy blackouts. The flexible resource is a self-contained energy system that can connect and contribute to local resources, and disconnect from the power grid when needed to absorb the shock serving as a backup grid.
Kristov explains that the process of implementing microgrids as community energy systems aims to maintain the three “urgent missions” of sustainability, resilience, and equity. Achieving all three goals requires local action, as they have not all been recognized at state or federal policy levels. In California, policies and targets implemented for decarbonization and clean energy are making progressive strides to energy independence, such as SB100 passed in 2018 to power the state with carbon-free electricity by 2045. Nonetheless, we still need more state level policy commitments to energy resilient communities and programs to empower local governments to plan and implement local energy systems.
In order to achieve such policies, it is essential to continue to act at the local level to move in the direction of energy independence. Following the Academy’s motto to “think globally, act locally,” our job in California is to show the transition is possible and can be done at no additional cost to ratepayers so federal and other international policies can be put in place. We must elect leaders who support a green economy, educate those around us, and promote energy independence. Supporting this suggestion, Kristov argues that local governments need to create a state level structure that advances state and policy goals, meets local needs and priorities, and supports the macro power grid. States must also reform the distribution utilities of local energy giants with a large political and economic power base. As a result, demand needs to come from the bottom up just as much as policy needs to be implemented from the top down.
We must also collectively change our mindset and be the ones to take the initiative to move forward and choose to “cut the wires” to do the seemingly impossible, similar to when the world transitioned from wired to cellular phones. To put the example in perspective, the wired phone system only gave about 23 percent of the world’s population access to phones at its peak in 1970. Well over 96 percent of the world population has access to wireless phones today due to cutting wires and taking the chance on mobile phones. Furthermore, Kristov urges that consumers should become participants in the grids by committing to reducing and managing peaks of energy usage and contributing to the development of infrastructure. Implementing renewable energy through microgrids and other forms of community energy systems is possible when we utilize our ambition and commit to our future.
Lorenzo Kristov is an independent consultant focusing on power system transition to integrate high levels of renewable generation and distributed energy resources (DER).
For most of the 2000s he was a lead designer of the locational marginal pricing-based market structure the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) implemented in 2009. He later led initiatives to redesign the transmission planning process and the new generator interconnection process to accommodate rapid growth of renewable energy projects triggered by California’s renewable portfolio standards. Since then he has focused on integrating distributed energy resources into the CAISO markets and grid operations, and has led CAISO’s engagement in California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proceedings dealing with distributed energy resources. He also participates for CAISO in national forums on electric system evolution. Lately, he's also been serving in an advisory role the Santa Rosa based Climate Center.
During the industry restructuring of the 1990s he worked at the California Energy Commission in collaboration with the CPUC and stakeholders to develop the rules for retail direct access. In 1993-4 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia working on a commercial and regulatory framework for direct foreign investment in power generation. He has a B.S. in mathematics from Manhattan College, an M.S. in statistics from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Davis.
Lorenzo Kristov, our guest on 9/4/20