The “San Onofre Community Response” was presented by Ted Flanigan this week in San Francisco. Why not let the communities surrounding the San Onofre nuclear plant become part of the solution to the capacity shortage caused by its closure? There is an opportunity to galvanize the public into action – through optimized energy efficiency, renewables, community solar, etc. — given the plant’s closure.

The “Living Pilot” Symposium was held at the California Public Utilities Commission to help Southern California Edison shore up two capacity-short substations near San Onofre. The symposium was convened to explore innovative solutions to replacing the capacity and voltage support of the 2,250 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating station, known fondly as “Songs.” SCE for the first time is looking for means to demonstrate the value of targeted energy management. It’s looking for proposals to offset/replace power at the Johanna and Santiago substations and the areas they serve.

The Living Pilot – now called the “Preferred Resources Pilot” –  is intended to break through the silos of energy management programs offered in California, for efficiency, solar, demand response, etc. In a specific geographic area, the pilot program will flex alternatives to nuclear capacity. These territories have been impacted by the loss of San Onofre, and are in high-growth areas. At the symposium, 53 proposals were heard, including EcoMotion’s “San Onofre Solution,” a community energy management approach to complement high-tech technologies and their controls.

The symposium provided glimpses of the future. The proposals featured what the Commission now calls “preferred resources:” energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy, and energy storage. As Commissioner Florio stated, “These were once the appetizers or the dessert. Now they are the main course.” There were proposals ranging from “high frequency demand response” to battery storage, and giant pumped storage pistons in the earth, to smart solar streetlamps, addressable inverters, and basic insulation.

Imperial Irrigation District presented its concept to run a 1,100 MW DC power line to San Onofre, powered with 100% renewable energy… primarily geothermal. Presentations were made on fuel cells, “Ice bears,” and rooftop solar combined with batteries. The meeting featured the energy/water nexus, this time in a realization that there remains a large potential for energy management in water works.

EcoMotion’s proposal is to harness the community’s passion surrounding the plant and its closure. And to effectively market to the community, the targeted area must make sense to the public.  The importance of working with the community was echoed by a minister from Irvine, as well as members of the Asian/American community, O Power, and Simple Power… the last being a company that specializes in modifying consumer behavior to greater efficiency through a points and rewards program.

Commissioner Florio thanked the participants, and shared his takeaways: The meeting confirmed for him that “there are a lot of smart, talented people working in this space. There are a lot of musicians in this world. What we need is a conductor to make them play in harmony.” Southern California Edison is taking the lead, seeking means to draw promising concepts in concert to assure system reliability at a reasonable cost. In this case, the Preferred Resource Pilot may well pave the way for greater levels of targeted energy management, ushering in an era in which preferred resources are ubiquitous thanks to their smart integration and synergy.

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