California's bold renewable energy push will unfurl faster than expected and dramatically transform and grow the state's energy economy, leaders say.
J. Andrew Murphy, Edison International senior vice president, strategic planning, said the benefits will be extensive and across the board.
"The confluence of new policies, technologies, evolving customer needs and market dynamics in California creates tremendous opportunity for all stakeholders – utilities, vendors, developers and service providers alike," Murphy said.
"There is much value to be created as this transformation occurs, and it doesn’t need to be a zero sum game."
California is on pace to meet its 50 percent renewable energy goals by 2030 - if not sooner, says David Hochschild, commissioner of the California Energy Commission.
Murphy, Hochschild and a group of fellow state and federal energy officials and leading utility executives will explore the sweeping implications of that at the California Renewables Rush conference in San Francisco on April 6.
In a written statement prepared for The Energy Times, Murphy said, "We believe that utilities have a critical role to play in helping the state to meet its goals: to provide the 21st century power network that acts as the enabling platform to unlock the full value of a future with high penetration of renewables and DERs."
At the heart of the change will be grid transformation.
"We are and will continue to modernize our grid so it allows a wide variety of DER technologies, 2-way energy flows, customer transactions, market participation and increased procurement of renewable energy," Murphy said.
The April 6 conference has been embraced by a broad swath of the utility universe, with the Edison Electric Institute, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric. Edison International and Sacramento Municipal Utility District sending top executives to address the conference. The utilities are also among the sponsors of the gathering which will explore the business and strategic, technological and policy challenges and opportunities ahead.
According to Hochschild, California is poised to get 33 percent of its power from renewables within four years and it is the leading state for renewable deployments.
According to Murphy, the years ahead will be an era of unprecedented change.
"It is definitely not business as usual—this might be the greatest challenge that utilities have ever faced—but it is also the greatest opportunity to reinvent the utility for the new century," Murphy said.
"New technologies and business models are being developed and adopted at an increasingly accelerated pace, so it will take utilities, regulators and solution providers working together in a fast, flexible, integrative and collaborative manner to get to where California wants to be."