Renewables Transmission Planning and Development

Transmission is to renewable energy resources what the transcontinental railroad was to opening up the West. We need to connect California’s renewable resource-rich regions—wind from Tehachapi, geothermal and wind from the Imperial Valley, concentrated solar power from the Mojave Desert, and to a lesser extent, bio-energy from the Central Valley—to the large coastal urban load centers of the state where it is needed. Making this vital connection will require a series of massive, multi-billion dollar investments in new transmission infrastructure. In conjunction with the California Energy Commission, we have been promoting a unique stakeholder collaboration project to expedite planning and development of vital transmission projects.

Recent Developments:

CEERT has continued to engage with the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO’s) Transmission Planning process, laying the groundwork for a significant effort on the 2017-2018 Transmission Plan.  A particular concern is the need to overcome the narrow set of future generation assumptions that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requires CAISO to use.  At a minimum, we need CAISO to study the transmission needs for complying with a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard, as well as 2030 GHG targets, which the CPUC has refused to include in its assumptions.

In addition, CEERT’s longstanding efforts to help resolve the dispute between CAISO and the Imperial Irrigation District have finally borne fruit.  CAISO and IID have reached an agreement on a number of issues, including allocation of deliverability of imports from IID to CAISO.  Even more significant, CAISO CEO Steve Berberich has become convinced of the need and value of additional geothermal development in the Salton Sea region to help balance California’s renewable portfolio and reduce our dependence on natural gas for reliability.  He has agreed to meet with CPUC Commissioners and the Governor’s office to convey this message.  At the same time, IID has pledged to drop its antitrust litigation against CAISO, and will no longer oppose regional grid expansion.