Summer 2021 Fellow: Devin Hagan, ‘21 (Earth Systems)

This fellowship is part of a partnership between Stanford in Government, the Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. If you are accepted as the fellow for this office, you will be required to complete a one-unit course on energy in California taught by Professors Bruce Cain and Sally Benson. 

Program requirement:

Take a one-unit workshop spring course, ‘Energy Policy in California and the West’ taught by Bruce Cain and Sally Benson that will provide an in-depth analysis of the role of California state agencies, the Western Interstate Energy Board, and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council in driving energy policy development, technology innovation, and market structures. Course number is CEE 263G / POLISCI 73 / PUBLPOL 73 / ENERGY 73.

Schedule: Wednesdays from 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Remote: Synchronous). (Please note: You can only enroll in the course after getting approved for the fellowship and receiving a permission number.) Please refer to the Shultz Energy Fellowships website for the most up-to-date information about the course.

Office description: 

The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) is located in Folsom, California, and manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage, long-distance power lines that make up over 80 percent of California’s electric power grid. The not-for-profit public benefit corporation safeguards the economy and well-being of over 30 million customers by operating the grid reliably 24/7.

The ISO has one of the most modern electricity generation and delivery control centers in North America. It has been described as a hybrid of the New York Stock Exchange and NASA’s mission control and powers the world’s eighth largest economy—California. The ISO designed its control center with a clean, green world in mind by using the latest high-tech grid reliability and renewable resource integration tools. To deliver all that clean energy, the ISO employs advanced technologies to monitor the power grid in milliseconds to ensure the 26,000-mile transmission network and over 850 power plants are always ready to meet the electricity needs of people in California and in the six states that are members of the western Energy Imbalance Market.

As the nerve center for the power grid, the ISO matches buyers and sellers of electricity, facilitating over 28,000 market transactions every day to ensure enough power is on hand to meet demand. Every five minutes the ISO forecasts electrical demand, accounts for operating reserves and dispatches the lowest cost power plant unit to meet demand while ensuring enough transmission capacity is available to deliver the power.

The ISO is the only system operator in the western United States supported by a competitive auction-style electricity market. The California ISO is the hub of efforts underway at state and government agencies and research laboratories to advance grid and system technologies, policies and processes because the ISO must use innovations to reliably operate the grid at all times and identify and dispatch the most cost-efficient power to meet demand. The ISO is leading the way to tomorrow’s energy network through the following strategies:

  • Lead the transition to renewable energy;
  • Maintain reliability during industry transformation; and
  • Expand regional collaboration to unlock mutual benefits.

The ISO is leading the world in the development of policies to effectively integrate large amounts of variable output renewable generation into the wholesale grid. The ISO is also leading the development of policies that enable distribution system resources, such as demand response, rooftop solar, and energy storage to participate in the ISO’s wholesale market. This will, for the first time, empower consumers to have the ability to become energy suppliers as well.

The ISO is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and complies with standards set by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.

 Potential Projects:

In the California Regulatory Affairs group, the fellow will join a team that represents the ISO before the California electricity and energy-related regulatory agencies. This includes but is not limited to the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and the California Air Resources Board. The California Regulatory Affairs group manages the ISO’s engagement with these regulatory agencies, ensures regulatory direction and decisions recognize the ISO’s reliability mandate, market, operational, and planning responsibilities, and contributes to corporate strategy. In addition, they serve as the California regulatory affairs liaison to internal teams.

A successful experience for the fellow in the California Regulatory Affairs group would be to make contributions to the evolution of the ISO market to achieve decarbonization of the electric grid and broader economy. The fellow would learn about current issues in energy by performing research analysis and developing written deliverables. Specifically, the fellow would summarize and perform qualitative and quantitative analyses on existing and proposed regulations with an understanding of how such regulations recognize the ISO’s core responsibilities. The fellow would gain insight into the regulatory process, interact with regulatory agency staff, and ISO internal teams.

For the California ISO, a successful engagement would be to host a student who is passionate about shaping the future of California’s energy landscape through policy and regulatory analysis, collaboration with Subject Matter Experts both from internal ISO teams and external entities, and the natural curiosity required to understand the wide breadth of challenges facing the today’s power grid.

Possible Projects include:

  • Regulatory proceeding timelines can change quickly but the following is a selection of the issues the California Regulatory Affairs group follows: resource adequacy, integrated resource planning, storage and hybrid storage resources in the ISO market, demand response, microgrids, once-through cooling resource retirement, Aliso Canyon investigation, the future of natural gas-fired resources, Senate Bill 100, transportation electrification and distributed energy resources.

Potential Mentors:

  • Delphine Hou – Director, California Regulatory Affairs

Desired Skills:

  • Strong research, quantitative analysis, and writing and communication skills are highly desired. Experience with Excel preferred.
  • Knowledge of the nature of electricity markets, electric regulatory agencies, bulk electric system operations, and knowledge of the state’s environmental goals helpful.

Eligibility: 

  • This opportunity is open to students from any major with the desired background.
  • International students are not eligible to work at CAISO, but are eligible to apply for any other Shultz Energy Fellowships opportunity.

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