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, and solar power from the Mojave Desert and 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, multibillion-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:

California’s growing energy needs call for ample transmission upgrades and expansions, but those face significant delays primarily due to a backlog of projects needing California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approval and to the investor-owned utilities’ (IOUs’) lag time in project completion. These projects often take ten years before they are ready to serve the grid, and CEERT is taking action to call upon the agencies to get the job done.

We have been convening two sets of biweekly calls on transmission; the first with GridLab Executive Director Ric O’Connell and transmission expert Ed Smeloff to pinpoint topics of interest to take to a second larger group, which includes members from the Independent Energy Producers Association (IEP), California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA), EDP Renewables, EDF Renewable Energy, Cyrq, Pattern, and others. Ed Smeloff has developed a Google Earth Tour depicting upgrade projects proposed in the CAISO 20-Year Outlook, as well as new prospective projects needed to meet California’s energy needs.

CEERT is working closely with California Energy Commission (CEC) Vice Chair Siva Gunda and staff on transmission issues, including reliability, methods and assumptions, and the effects of a dwindling supply-chain on energy procurement. This team meets about once monthly and focuses on concrete, near-term solutions to the problems California faces with a growing demand for clean, reliable electricity.