CEERT Reports

California’s Path to Decarbonization


March 2023



Earlier this year, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) released a report, “Transmission in California”, on the need to build new high voltage transmission projects and upgrade existing transmission lines and substations in order to make substantial progress in the near and medium term in decarbonizing California’s electric system and the economy.

This report noted three important trends that have increased opportunities to accelerate decarbonization of California’s grid and economy—first, the rapid decline in costs of clean energy technologies; second, the improved recognition of suitable geographical locations where clean energy technologies can be sited; and third, the increase in electric load expected from the electrification of transportation, heating, and other end uses.

The enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act by Congress with sustained tax incentives for clean energy technologies has resulted in a surge of interest among investors and renewable energy project developers about opportunities in California. This interest can be observed by the flood of interconnection applications that have been submitted in the CAISO’s Cluster 14 and Cluster 15 application periods.

The Cluster 15 window, which closed on April 16, 2023, resulted in 546 new interconnection applications. This quantity exceeded the so-called Supercluster 14, which had 373 applications (a 46% increase). There are currently over 530 GW of interconnection applications in the CAISO queue; an order of magnitude more than is required to meet California’s needs.

Through coordinated efforts, California’s energy policymakers have created the conditions that encourage a high-level of interest in building and operating clean energy resources that will help the State meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. However, California will need to continue to make sustained efforts to ensure that sufficient transmission capacity is permitted and built in a timely manner to leverage this competitive market, and that feasible alternatives also be considered so that the failure to build one project does not result in a failure to achieve the desired capability expansion in a specific planning horizon. Delays in upgrading the transmission system will create irreversible lost opportunities for clean energy development as the need for decarbonization becomes ever more urgent.

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July 10, 2010 Solar, Wind, and Geothermal Resources and the DRECP - (pdf)

October 12, 2009 California Signs First Memorandum of Understanding with U.S. Department of Interior Regarding Renewable Energy: Expediting the Siting of Renewable Energy Projects Needed to Reach CA's 33% Goal - (pdf)

June 1, 2009 Memorandum of Understanding Between the State of California and the Department of the Interior on Renewable Energy - (pdf)

May 21, 2009 Summary: "Waterfall" Value Proposition of Large-Scale Solar Power Technologies in California - (pdf)

May 1, 2009 Value Proposition of Large Scale Solar Power Technologies in California - (pdf)

February 7, 2009 Harvesting CA Renewable Energy Resources: A Green Jobs Business Plan - (pdf)

January 6, 2009 Opinion: U.S. should tax oil instead of letting OPEC do it - (pdf)

February 7, 2008 Harvesting CA Renewable Energy Resources - (pdf)

December 4, 2007 The Role of Technology in Mitigating Global Climate Change - (pdf)

November 28, 2007 CEC: Letter Regarding Clarification of CA Guidelines for Reducing Impacts to Birds and Bats from Wind Energy Development - (pdf)

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