2024 California Independent System Operator (CAISO) undergraduate fellowship

Summer 2023 Fellow: Chloé Romero, Earth Systems ‘25

Learn more about Chloe’s experience:

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 a fellow for this office, you will be required to complete a one-unit course on energy in California taught by Professor Bruce Cain and Visiting Fellow Felicia Marcus. This 10-week summer fellowship runs from June 24, 2024 – August 30, 2024.

Program requirements:

Take a one-unit workshop spring course, ‘Energy Policy in California and the West’ taught by Bruce Cain and Felicia Marcus 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 9:30 am – 10:20 am. (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.

All Shultz fellows must be enrolled in the spring quarter before their fellowship

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 Infrastructure and Operations Planning division, the fellow will support the ISO’s efforts to assess resource portfolios and maintain the reliability of the electric system by researching operational policies and utilizing data analytics.

A successful experience would involve learning about developing best practices in modeling sustainable electricity resources, such as demand response resources, and understanding the ISO market design and policies related to these resources. The fellow would gain experience in using data analytics and programming tools to comprehend the operation and performance of sustainable electricity resources, as well as best practices for integrating them into the electricity grid, all while working with massive datasets.

For the California ISO, a successful engagement would involve hosting a student passionate about shaping the future of California’s electricity market through engineering, economic, and policy analysis. To succeed, the student would need strong communication, research, writing, and analytical skills, along with programming experience in either Python and/or Visual Basic built-in Excel.

Possible Projects include:

Explore a Best Practice Strategy to Model Demand Response Resources: Apply data analytics and programming tools to enhance the ISO’s understanding of the operation and performance of demand response resources. Explore best practices in modeling and integrating such resources into the electricity grid. The project’s output will serve as input for the stack analysis model for the ISO system reliability assessment.

Study Plan for the 2024 Summer Intern


The purpose of this study is to enhance ISO’s understanding of the operation and performance of demand response resources, as well as to explore best practices in modeling and integrating such resources into the electricity grid. The project’s output will serve as input for the stack analysis model in the ISO system reliability assessment.

Working Group:

The working group comprises the following members:

·       Stanford Shultz Energy Fellow

·        Xuping Li and Samuel Hawkes from CAISO


The following tasks have been organized based on the process steps:

  1. Learn Methodologies: The first task is to understand the operation and policy associated with demand response resources, and how demand response is contributing to our zero carbon future. This will involve a comprehensive literature review.
  2. Review and Improve Tools: Next, we will review and, if necessary, enhance the tools developed by ISO staff. This step will ensure that the tools are optimized for generating accurate and reliable output.
  3. Collect, Review, and Refine Data: During this task, we will gather historical and forecast load and generation data. The collected data will undergo a thorough review and may be refined to address missing data or data errors.
  4. Conduct Analysis: The final task involves performing data analytics to further ISO’s understanding of the operation and performance of demand response resources, and to explore the best practices in modeling and integrating such resources into the electricity grid. The results of this study will assist in accurately modeling highly important sustainable electricity resources.

The intern student will play a crucial role as the primary contributor to this study plan, with the CAISO team, including Xuping Li, and Samuel Hawkes, providing necessary support and guidance throughout the process.

By successfully completing these tasks, our goal is to develop a comprehensive understanding of demand response resources and effectively contribute to the CAISO system reliability assessment.

Potential Mentor:

  • Aditya Jayam Prabhakar
    Director, Resource Assessment and Planning

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 are helpful.

Stipend amount


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