California’s ambitious pursuit of a green economy has made it a national leader, but developing new clean energy sources poses its own dilemma. Like many states, aging infrastructure presents a challenge for bringing that power online.
On March 10, 2022, the Golden State’s independent systems operator announced a major investment to help overcome that obstacle. In its recently approved transmission plan, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) included 23 different projects that will provide much-needed infrastructure upgrades and help the state meet its ambitious clean energy goals. In total, CAISO will fund nearly $3 billion worth of projects.
The proposed projects fall into one of three categories. In the first tranche, 16 projects will receive a total of $1.4 billion to address grid reliability. Highlighted among them are two high-voltage direct current projects in the San Francisco South Bay region serving the San Jose-Silicon Valley Power area, plus the rebuild of a 66 kV switchyard substation owned and operated by Southern California Edison in northern Los Angeles County. The projects are intended to mitigate anticipated increases in local fault current levels.
In the second group of projects, CAISO will fund 6 policy-driven transmission projects totaling $1.51 billion to provide the access to renewable generation needed to meet the state’s goals. Specifically, they are designed to meet the renewable generation requirements established by the California Public Utilities Commission’s 60% Renewable Portfolio Standard.
The third area of focus attempts to bring economic benefits to customers by reducing grid congestion. CAISO identified a series reactor installation project that will receive $40 million.
In preparing the plan, CAISO found that “the combination of dramatically increasing the pace of renewable generation and load forecast growth are driving an increase in transmission requirements.”
The spending plan represents more than a tenfold increase of the $217 million annual average spent on similar projects over the last 5 years.