The California Energy Security Project (CalEnergy project) was a
one-year effort, funded by NOAA, to determine the economic benefit of
weather and climate forecasts to the energy industry. Standard weather
forecasts of the type produced by the national weather service are
already used in the energy industry, but climate science has shown that
for certain problems, or at longer timescales (monthly or seasonal)
some predictions can be made. These forecasts aren't, however,
currently used in the energy industry. We wanted to find out why,
how to make the climate forecasts useful, and what the economic value
of those forecasts are. The project ran from roughly fall of 2003
to fall of 2004. As of summer 2005 the project is currently under
a no-cost extension while the publications from the work are being
Given the limited time available for completing the project, we
decided to focus on
the western U.S., and in particular on California. This motivated
our choice of participants.
- The project was led by Dr. Tim Barnett of the Climate Research
Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).
- Many of the climate forecasts were implemented by Dr. Eric
Alfaro, who was a visiting researcher at SIO at the time (now at the
University of Costa Rica), and by Dr. David W. Pierce, of the Climate
Research Division at SIO.
- Interaction with stakeholders (i.e., energy industry
participants) was coordinated by Dr. Anne Steinemann, who was at
Georgia Tech when this work was done. She has since moved to the
University of Washington.
- The hydropower aspects of the work were done by Dr. Dennis
Lettenmeier's group at the University of Washington. In
particular, much of the work was done by Nathalie Voisin, a graduate
student in the group, and Dr. Alan Hamlet.
- We partnered with the California Energy Commission (CEC), in
particular with Guido Franco and his co-workers, who provided an
in-depth knowledge of the California energy utility industry.
- We brought SAIC into the project to provide expertise in the
workings of the energy industry, and in how traditional weather
forecasts are currently used in the industry. The SAIC part of the
effort was headed by Dr. Mary Altalo, and largely implemented by Todd
Davis, Lorna Greening, and Monica Hale of SAIC, and also Leonard Smith.
- The California Independent Systems Operator (CalISO), which runs
the electrical grid in California, worked with us to define a problem
of mutual interest (forecast of the California Delta Breeze) and are
evaluating the usefulness of a statistical forecast of the delta breeze
developed as part of CalEnergy.
- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), an energy utility in
the San Diego, CA area, defined a problem of interest to them
concerning forecasting peak electrical load days at a leadtime of 3
- PacifiCorp, an energy utility with a service region spread
throughout the interior western U.S. (and particularly in Idaho, Utah,
Oregon, and Northern California) supplied electrical load data for a
problem they were interested in, which was forecasting farmer's
irrigation pump electrical use a season in advance in the western U.S.
The following publications describing the results and findings
of the CalEnergy project have been generated with full or
partial support from the
- Alfaro, E., Gershunov, A.,
Cayan, D., Steinemann, A., Pierce, D., and Barnett, T., 2004:
A method for prediction of California summer air surface temperature. EOS (transactions of the American
Geophysical Union), 85, p.
- Alfaro, E. J.,
Pierce, D. W., Steinemann, A. C., and Gershunov, A., 2005:
Relationships Between the Irrigation Pumping Electrical Loads and the
Local Climate in Climate Division 9, Idaho. J. Applied Meteorology, J. Applied Meteorology, v. 44, p. 1972-1978..
- Alfaro, E. J., Gershunov, S., and Cayan, D., 2005: Prediction of
summer maximum and minimum temperature over the western United States:
The role of soil moisture and sea surface temperature. J. Climate, v. 19, p. 1407-1421.
- Altalo, M. G., and
Smith, L. A., 2004: Using ensemble weather forecasts to
manage utilities risk. Environmental Finance, October 2004.
- Davis, T. D.,
Gaushell, D., Pierce, D. W., and Altalo, M. A.,
2005: Guessing Mother Nature's Next Move: What can be done to
improve weather prediction and load forecasts? Public
Utilities Fortnightly, August, 2005. (Note: has other material in
addition to the CalEnergy work.)
- Voisin, N., A. F.
Hamlet, L. P. Graham, D. W. Pierce, T. P. Barnett, and D. P.
Lettenmaier, 2006: The role of climate forecasts in western U.S.
power planning, J. Applied Meteorology, v. 45, p. 653-673.
In addition to these works, a number of manuscripts for external
publication are either under
preperation or are in the review process. These include one by
Anne Steinemann that is a overall summary of the project; one on the
Delta Breeze by David Pierce; and one by Leonard Smith looking at
optimizing forecast skill by using the proper weighted assemblage of
various weather forecasts.