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Wave of Sunshine Means Two Hours of Free Power in California

February 6, 2018, by Mark Chediak

Electricity in California cost nothing for two hours Tuesday as a wave of solar energy flooded the grid while demand was below the day-ahead forecast.

Northern California and Southern California wholesale spot power averaged $0 a megawatt-hour in the hours ending at 11 a.m. and noon, according to Genscape Inc. data compiled by Bloomberg. Solar generation was as much as 8,500 megawatts, supplying almost 40 percent of the state’s demand during that period, according to the California Independent System Operator.

Prices can sometimes dip below zero in the Golden State when output from renewable energy jumps and exceeds demand. Solar generators can bid into the market at low prices because, unlike natural-gas and nuclear operators, they don’t have to pay for fuel costs.

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