California ISO approves 2011-2012 transmission plan

The governing board of the California ISO (Cal-ISO) on March 23 unanimously approved the grid operator’s 2011-2012 transmission plan.

The plan includes a total of 30 reliability-driven transmission projects that were identified as needed, representing an investment of approximately $691m in infrastructure additions to the Cal-ISO-controlled grid. The projects are necessary to ensure compliance with NERC and Cal-ISO planning standards, according to the plan.

Three of the projects have costs greater than $50m and a combined cost of $ 280m.

Those projects include the addition of a 115-kV transmission line between Bridgeville and Garberville in northern California. The line will parallel an existing 60-kV line and will eliminate overloads during contingencies. The project is estimated to cost $55-65m.

The second large project, the 230-kV underground Embarcadero-Potrero cable, will maintain security of supply to downtown San Francisco. That cable is estimated to cost $130-150m.

The third project, the Kern 115-kV area reinforcement, will eliminate overloads during contingencies in southern California’s Kern County area, and will cost an estimated $40-65m.

The remaining 27 projects cost less than $50m each and were approved by Cal-ISO management, consistent with the tariff.

The bulk of the projects, in number as well as in cost, are within the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) territory. PG&E has 22 projects totaling $610m. Southern California Edison (SCE) has three projects for $25m, while San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has five projects for a total of $56m.

“While this plan shows that the transmission approved to date can accommodate a diverse range of plausible renewable development scenarios, the ISO will continue to work with state agencies and all stakeholders to evaluate development trends and policy directives beginning with next year’s planning cycle and will reassess the transmission needs accordingly,” the Cal-ISO said in a presentation to its board of governors.

In recommending that the board approve the plan, Cal-ISO management said the projects “meet the reliability needs of the ISO-controlled grid, enable the state’s 33% RPS goals, and provide for prudent development of the transmission system” in California.

PG&E is a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG).

SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX).

SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE).