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:

The success in rooftop solar and energy efficiency reducing peak system demand caused the CAISO to postpone $2.5 billion in transmission expansions in PG&E service territory that were previously approved to meet projected load growth. This is the clearest sign yet that preferred resources do indeed have capacity value and offset traditional investment in grid reliability.

CEERT’s Grid Policy Director Liz Anthony and Senior Technical Consultant Jim Caldwell have been engaged in the CAISO 2018-19 Transmission Planning Process. In addition to its regular transmission planning, the CAISO will evaluate potential “economic” transmission upgrades to reduce local capacity requirements, and therefore reduce the gas contracts needed for resource adequacy. The CPUC and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have also asked the CAISO to evaluate how to increase transfer capacity on the direct current (DC) intertie into the Los Angeles Basin to reduce dependence on the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. This evaluation will be in the form of a special study supported by both the Bonneville Power Administration and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.