SoCal Edison to pursue 105 MW of renewables, majority from solar

Californian utility Southern California Edison (SCE) announced at the weekend its plans to purchase 105 MW of renewable power, the majority of which will be solar PV, in an effort to meet state guidelines on clean energy sources.

A further 50 MW of solar PV capacity is also being sought by the utility as part of its newly launched Green Rate program – an offshoot of the statewide Green Tariff Shared Renewables program that was created by California to assist its main utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Edison, in transitioning to greener power sources.

The program is pitched at Californian citizens that are unable to install their own rooftop PV system. It allows customers to source between 50 and 100% of their electricity from solar resources, paying the difference it costs to procure the power. SCE customers will be offered this scheme from next year, hence the utility’s eagerness to ramp-up its renewable energy sourcing capacity.

"Not only are we making progress toward the California Renewables Portfolio Standard goal of delivering 33% renewable power by 2020, but with this solicitation we also intend to provide customers who cannot otherwise install solar on their roof an option to source their energy demands directly from solar resources," said SCE’s vice president of energy procurement and management, Colin Cushnie.

Steps towards storage

The utility also recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for plug-and-play battery storage systems to meet a series of grid requirements throughout its network. SCE wants a range of ‘just-in-time’ storage systems – from anywhere between 1 MWh to 16 MWh – to be added to its portfolio, capable of being built, shipped, installed and connected within seven months of being contracted.

Such a quick turnaround is necessary, SCE says, to enable its bank of storage to adapt to the rapidly changing distribution grid project-planning cycles that the utility is moving towards. Its RFP for pre-engineered storage solutions is defined as a combination of batteries, power converters and control systems already proven in field tests. The systems must also be compatible with utility control systems.

"I think it’s the first time anyone has done what you’d call a framework agreement for energy storing purchasing," SCE’s advanced technology department director Mark Irwin told GTM Research. "It’s a faster move towards catalog or off-the-shelf purchasing for energy storage systems. When utilities decide to buy multiple products, this is how they decide to buy them."

Irwin confirmed that SCE will, in the first instance, seek to purchase around five to 10 systems in the 2 – 8 MWh range.