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:

As part of our advocacy to expand transmission needed to meet clean-energy and GHG-emission targets, CEERT’s Jim Caldwell and V. John White have had discussions with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Southern California Edison (SCE), and the Transmission Agency of Northern California. A common thread in these talks has been the need for a more robust and strategic approach to transmission planning that looks beyond the narrow future generation portfolio assumptions the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has developed. A second subject has been the need to coordinate transmission planning across load-serving entities, especially between publicly owned utilities and investor owned utilities such as LADWP and SCE. One idea is to create an informal utility transmission planning group like the one that worked together during the time of the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI).

CEERT also met with Bob Mitchell of TRED, an experienced transmission developer that had a lead role on Path 15. They are seeking to build an underwater, direct-current transmission line between Diablo Canyon and Los Angeles to bring offshore wind from the Central Coast to the heart of the LA Basin. This project would be a crucial link for offshore wind, and would help reduce dependence on gas-fired generation. But under current CPUC transmission planning and Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) modeling assumptions, the project would not be eligible for CAISO to study.