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:

CEERT has continued to host a set of biweekly calls on transmission, one internally and one externally, in partnership with Ric O’Connell at GridLab and energy consultant Edward Smeloff, to report regularly on transmission-related matters at the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the legislature.

Drawing on the work discussed in these calls, CEERT and GridLab have published two reports, the first of which, “Transmission in California,” details critical issues we’re currently facing with slow transmission buildout and the backlogging of projects at the CPUC, as well as CEERTs recommendations for streamlining the process, in part through interconnection queue management reform and transmission permitting process reform.

The second report, “California’s Path to Decarbonization: Transmission Planning, Permitting, and Timely Construction,” follows the release of the CAISO’s 2022-23 Transmission Plan with a zonal focus on the Central Valley, Imperial Valley, and Los Angeles Basin, and recommends ways that transmission planning between the CAISO, CPUC, and CEC can be completed more efficiently to expedite necessary projects for grid reliability and reducing reliance on gas plants.

Following the completion of the second report, CEERT hosted a public webinar, “Decarbonizing the Economy with Transmission,” led by Executive Director V. John White and with a special presentation by Edward Smeloff on the report’s findings. Other panelists included Los Angeles Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, Bill Magavern from Coalition for Clean Air, Hunter Stern representing IBEW Local 1245, and the Latino Equity, Advocacy and Policy Institute’s Rey León. The webinar had a total of around 100 participants and is available to watch on YouTube.

The new “California’s Path to Decarbonization” report is now featured on the CEERT website home page. For access to any of the other materials noted above or for the Zoom information for the biweekly Transmission Calls, please reach out to CEERT’s Policy Coordinator, Maia Leroy, at

Siting and Permitting

With Clean Power Campaign, CEERT has been actively engaged in developing legislation to accelerate approvals and permitting for large utility-sponsored transmission projects by giving utilities the option of moving their approvals and permitting (including CEQA review) to the California Energy Commission instead of the CPUC.

We have also begun participating in a new CPUC proceeding on expediting transmission siting and approval, and are hoping that CPUC Commissioner Karen Douglas can help focus the staff on where the delays have occurred and find new ways to speed up approvals, such as establishing a rebuttable presumption that CAISO’s Transmission Planning Process determines the need for new transmission projects, and hopefully limit or avoid having to analyze the “no project alternative.”