Jan Smutny-Jones: 30 Years of Power (RTO Insider)

Published: July 9, 2017

By Jason Fordney
RTO Insider

SACRAMENTO — As CEO of the Independent Energy Producers Association (IEPA), Jan Smutny-Jones has had a front-row seat in the California energy debate since 1987. IEPA represents independent energy producers including biomass, geothermal, small hydro, solar, wind, cogeneration and natural gas-fired merchant facilities, with offices just a block from the state capitol.

Smutny-Jones is an advocate for Secure California’s Energy Future, an industry-based group that has been urging the State Legislature to expand CAISO’s market into other areas of the West. But some members of the State Assembly and market participants want the state to go slow on regionalization, which would require bringing representatives from other states onto the ISO’s Board of Governors. (See California Lawmakers Take Up CAISO Expansion.)

The list of groups supporting the regionalization plan includes Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Business Council, Solar Energy Industries Association, SunPower, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

Regionalization could help California’s natural gas-fired plants stay in business and make the market more efficient across the West, he said. The abundance of solar has put pressure on the state’s natural gas plants by changing the operational profile of the grid. In 2008, there was only about 300 MW of utility-scale solar in the state, but that figure has reached almost 10,000 MW as the cost of photovoltaics has come down and the state adopted its RPS. This has changed the operating profile for natural gas plants that are not receiving the price signals to stay in business.

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