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How virtual power plants can advance electrification and mitigate infrastructure needs as we race to meet our climate challenges

This project and subsequent paper will explore three contemporary case studies of how distributed energy resources have been aggregated into Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) to provide resilient, low carbon solutions for our climate challenge in a manner that can mitigate demands on our energy infrastructure.  These recent case studies will analyze a variety of distributed energy resources, including home behind the meter batteries and electric vehicles, and how they can be aggregated to participate in wholesale electric markets to reduce the demand for larger utility scale resources.  The paper has been accepted for publication in the University of San Diego School of Law’s Journal of Climate and Energy Law.  The student participants in this project will be co-authors of the article.

These case studies will build on previous research we have performed at our Institute for Energy and the Environment and published in Volume 6 of the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law as well as more recent work we have done on Puerto Rico’s road to resilience following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.  We will also apply the hands-on knowledge we have developed in our energy clinic exploring climate justice issues and how we can best ensure that the benefits of the clean energy transition can be more equitably shared with low income and underserved communities.

The cases will consider how FERC orders 841 and 2222 will help remove the barriers to effective participation in regional markets and also explore the remaining conflicts with overlapping state and federal jurisdiction.  We will also use these case studies to explore whether VPP resources allow states more effective opportunities to incent investments in instate clean and distributed resources without raising significant commerce clause concerns.  We will conclude with policy recommendations to promote the growth of VPPs in a manner that enhances electrification and promotes resilience as we transition to a low carbon future.

This project is lead by IEE Director, Dr. Kevin Jones