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 been actively engaged for the past several months in seeking to expedite California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and utility approval of transmission upgrades and expansions that have already been approved by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), and that must be com­pleted in order to provide deliverability for the thousands of megawatts (MW) of new renewables needed in the next 5 years.  We worked with our renewable affiliates and with allied trade groups, such as Ameri­cans for Clean Power, Large-scale Solar Association, and Independent Energy Producers, and spoke out directly to CPUC Commissioners about the backlog and delays.

CEERT has worked with these same allies and stakeholders to advocate for expansion of the CAISO’s current 10-year transmission plan, beyond the narrow Integrated Energy Planning (IRP) generation port­folio that the CPUC submitted, to include additional transmission projects required to deliver the 11,500+ MW of clean energy that the CPUC recently ordered in its midterm reliability procurement decision.  We are encouraging the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Interagency SB 100 Working Group to intervene and suggest “no regrets” addi­tions to the 2021-22 Transmission Plan, to ensure the necessary transmission infrastructure is in place to successfully deliver the zero-carbon energy we will need to provide grid reliability upon the re­tire­­ment of Diablo Canyon and the last of the once-though-cooling gas-fired power plants, while meeting our clean-energy and climate goals.

CEERT also participated in two recent CEC workshops on transmission and had several private discus­sions with CEC leaders to help develop the roadmap for the Interagency SB 100 Working Group process.

In addition, CEERT talked with a developer with wide-ranging offshore-wind experience about an inno­vative proposal to build a backbone undersea trunk line to bring electricity from the offshore-wind re­source northwest of Morro Bay to, at first, the Diablo Canyon transmission inter­connection, and later to Morro Bay and the main arterial cable to the LA Basin for interconnection to both LADWP and CAISO.  The CAISO has kicked off a con­ceptual study of the transmission architecture required to integrate the full ~15 GW of California off­shore wind potential, with results due in November.  CEERT hopes to con­vene a collaborative working group, akin to the Tehachapi Collabora­tive, to develop trans­mission plan­ning ideas and financing strategies for offshore wind.