Has California finally solved “The Duck Curve?”

April 10, 2019

California experiences a daily spike in energy demand in the early evening when renewable sources like solar go offline and residents come home from work and increase their energy consumption by flipping on their air conditioning, turning on their lighting, doing laundry, charging electronic devices, and engaging in other energy-consuming activities.

When charted on a graph (see picture), the shape of California’s daily electrical consumption resembles a duck. Analysts have noted the duck’s belly is getting fatter with each passing year, meaning the evening net load ramp when flexible resources are needed to account for the spike is becoming more extreme.

A Steady Diet of Storage

The duck’s belly may not get fatter in 2019, but it’s still going to be heavy.

To help alleviate grid stress associated with evening load ramp, CAISO is developing a load-shifting product under the third phase of CAISO’s Energy Storage Distributed Energy Resource (ESDER) that would be the state’s first product that will pay a resource to consume energy to soak up excess generation during negative pricing periods.

CAISO’s load-shift program embodies California’s desire to bring clean resources to the forefront of grid reliability by storing excess clean energy and making it available for future use.

The program, championed by the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) among other energy storage companies, also aims to reduce the number of solar curtailments needed to offset the ill effects of negative pricing caused by a large solar surplus on CAISO’s system.   

The two big questions on the minds of organizations that have implemented or are thinking of implementing energy storage are:

  1. When will the CAISO’s load shifting product be available for participation?
  2. How will these storage resources be valued in the wholesale market?

The short answer to the first question is the program is currently going through the FERC approval process and is scheduled to go into effect in November 2020.

As far as how storage will be valued in the wholesale market? It’s too early to tell right now, but expect California to continue to work to provide value for all the services storage can provide.


This post was excerpted from the 2019 State of Demand-Side Energy Management in North America, a market-by-market analysis of the issues and trends the experts at CPower feel organizations like yours need to know to make better decisions about your energy use and spend.

CPower has taken the pain out of painstaking detail, leaving a comprehensive but easy-to-understand bed of insights and ideas to help you make sense of demand-side energy’s quickly-evolving landscape.

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Jennifer Chamberlin

Jennifer Chamberlin has spent more than 18 years advocating for, developing, and analyzing market rules and procurement policy across the competitive energy industry. As CPower’s Executive Director of Market Development for the CAISO market, Jennifer is responsible for keeping hundreds of demand response customers abreast of market conditions, energy prices, and regulatory issues. Her work is overseen by her two cats, who basically rule her household.

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Jennifer Chamberlin

Jennifer Chamberlin has spent more than 18 years advocating for, developing, and analyzing market rules and procurement policy across the competitive energy industry. As CPower’s Executive Director of Market Development for the CAISO market, Jennifer is responsible for keeping hundreds of demand response customers abreast of market conditions, energy prices, and regulatory issues. Her work is overseen by her two cats, who basically rule her household.