"As the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) comes off of another successful year, we are well positioned, through joint action, to continue our progress during these changing times."
We are experiencing an energy revolution. The energy industry is evolving in response to technological innovations, changing markets, and state and federal policies driving more renewable energy and lower carbon emissions. As the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) comes off of another successful year, we are well positioned, through joint action, to continue our progress during these changing times.
NCPA is focused on providing our member utilities with clean, affordable, and reliable power in order to support our own environmental objectives as well as to meet public policy goals. The agency does this in large part through our geothermal power plant at the Geysers, our hydroelectric operations in Calaveras County, and the Lodi Energy Center (LEC).
NCPA's geothermal facilities had an excellent year of production, with generation exceeding the annual forecast by two percent. NCPA's hydroelectric production was severely limited due to the drought; however, this allowed the LEC—one of the cleanest and most efficient gas-fired power systems in the U.S.—to showcase its flexibility. In the LEC's first year and a half of operation, it was used extensively to integrate renewable energy in California with approximately 400 starts; but during 2015, the LEC operated as a baseload power plant to offset the drop in the state's hydroelectric power.
We also made many technological advancements in 2015. NCPA rolled out a number of internal projects to enhance work efficiency and cyber-security at the agency. We started up a Smart Grid Committee with our member utilities to provide services to support their smart grid initiatives. For NCPA pool utilities, we took 1980s vintage analog load meters at 18 different sites and replaced them with fully redundant, digital settlement-quality meters. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) also recognized NCPA's technological innovation related to the CAISO's new Outage Management System.
Many of NCPA's efforts are geared toward providing our member communities with economies of scale and cost savings. In 2015, one of our many achievements in this area involved work with the Western Area Power Administration to implement a Metered Efficiency Enhancement Agreement, which will increase the value of base resources to our pool members by up to $1 million annually. We led joint energy projects with our member utilities to promote best practices. This included securing a grant from the American Public Power Association to develop a "lighting calculator," which NCPA developed for its member utilities to quickly calculate the energy savings from lighting retrofit projects. NCPA also recovered $2.6 million in awarded settlement disputes from the CAISO.
At the state legislature, NCPA was actively involved in efforts to ensure that the state's ambitious energy policies are reasonable, and do not create unintended consequences. Among our accomplishments, we successfully defeated a legislative attempt to establish a burdensome new procurement mandate for energy efficiency, while also securing key concessions on behalf of our members in the discussions on how to craft a 50 percent renewable energy program.
At the state and federal regulatory level, NCPA was out in front of rulemaking proceedings related to the implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan and California's post-2020 greenhouse gas reduction programs. Additionally, NCPA has been engaged with Congress and federal agencies on managing our Western resource, proactively working to achieve cost savings for our member utilities.
Lastly, 2015 was a banner year for NCPA's partnerships. We established standing discussions with the Southern California Public Power Authority and the California Municipal Utilities Association on a number of priority issues. NCPA also approved a three-year labor agreement with its employees in the Hydroelectric Employees Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. But, perhaps most impressive, is the partnership NCPA experienced with several of its own member utilities during the Valley Fire response. The fire, which burned over 76,000 acres in Lake, Napa, and Sonoma Counties, destroyed infrastructure that is crucial to the geothermal operations at the Geysers. NCPA member utilities united and, in an inspirational joint effort, brought NCPA's operations back online in a matter of days.
I have been extremely pleased with NCPA's accomplishments during my first year as general manager. I feel confident that through joint action, NCPA is well situated to continue its success in this energy revolution.
Randy S. Howard