Out West student blog

Working at the California Department of Water Resources

Ye Zheng, wearing a black top and leaning against the railing of a bridge, smiles at the camera with Lake Tahoe visible in the background.
Ye Zheng on a weekend hike at Lake Tahoe during her summer Shultz Fellowship.

Ye Zheng (she/her)
Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Major: Civil Engineering ‘23
Internship: California Department of Water Resources

Ye Zheng reflects on how a summer as a Shultz Fellow at the California Department of Water Resources has given her an inside look at renewable energy planning within the public sector

This summer, I worked at the Power and Risk office at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). My project was to analyze potential risks and challenges for them to reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2035. This was a unique experience for me because I was able to gain insight into energy decarbonization in the American West from a public sector perspective. 

DWR is a very unique organization: it is not a typical utility that provides electricity to households and businesses. Instead, it has its load due to the demand for moving water and its hydropower generation. Thus, the analysis results are sometimes outside of my expectations, which is interesting to learn. For example, their peak loads are mid-day instead of in the late afternoon, and their hydropower production is in the evenings to cover the grid's need. 

This project allowed me to get exposure to some energy market studies and forecasts in the American West, helping me to develop a fundamental overview of future energy trends. I also gained a sense of achievement when delivering the analytical study outcomes. My project extended the DWR's annual analysis to an hourly basis, and offered suggestions for future studies. During the course of the internship, I benefitted from working closely with my mentors and past Shultz Fellows, which allowed me to obtain data for the study and get feedback promptly. Although the internship was only 10 weeks, the summer experience helped me develop a different perspective on renewable energy from a public perspective. 

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