California Wind Forecast: Marketplace Uncertain
Clark Morrison co-wrote an article published in the May 2013 issue of North American Windpower about the future of wind energy in California in light of some key proposals that are currently under review. The article highlights the RPS procurement reform process at the California Public Utilities Commission and a state-federal land-use planning effort that has the potential to dramatically limit wind development areas.
Planned reforms to the RPS procurement process include standards of review for contract amendments that substantially modify a contract. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission has shown signs that it will revisit “time of delivery” pricing factors “that, for some utilities, strongly favor on-peak deliveries,” Morrison and co-author Nancy Rader wrote.
The other proposal mentioned in the article, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan would pose a “significant” threat to the state's wind energy resources. The land-planning effort involves more than 22 acres of California desert and proposes to, among other things, greatly limit the amount of land available for wind energy projects. The wind energy projects would also be restricted to “development focus areas” (DFAs) many of which are not ideal for wind development.
“Similarly, the proposed DFAs largely fail to coincide with other areas that the wind industry has identified as promising for development,” the authors wrote. “In fact, the DFAs were designed without any serious investigation by the agencies as to which areas would be suit- able for wind.”
In response to criticism from those in the wind industry, the agencies managing the desert conservation plan had pledged to allow wind projects in some areas outside the DFAs provided they meet certain criteria, Morrison and Rader wrote. “At press time, we are awaiting the agencies’ written proposal along these lines.”