California ISO: Sufficient transmission planned to meet state’s RPS goals

The California ISO’s (Cal-ISO) 2011-2012 conceptual statewide transmission plan said sufficient transmission is planned or being built to meet the state’s goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020.

Released Sept. 28, the document takes a statewide perspective rather than focusing only on the Cal-ISO footprint. The plan, which used the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) projection issues in May that said the state will need to add 43.8 TWh of renewable generation to meet its renewable energy goal, concluded that the transmission additions and upgrades planned in the Cal-ISO and in the footprints of the state’s other balancing authority areas will be sufficient to accommodate that additional renewable generation.

The purpose of the plan is to ensure that the Cal-ISO’s comprehensive transmission plan and the transmission plans of other balancing authority areas in California are “simultaneously feasible.” The document also serves as a tool to coordinate planning with regional and sub-regional transmission planning processes and entities, including interconnected balancing authorities.

Balancing authority areas in the state include the Cal-ISO, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the Turlock Irrigation District (TID), the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

The plan draws largely on the efforts of the California transmission planning group (CTPG) in which the Cal-ISO participates. Through that group, the Cal-ISO and the other balancing authorities shared information about their planning efforts through the CTPG.

The report listed 22 projects, ranging from installing a single new transformer to reconductoring existing lines, upgrading the voltages on others, and constructing completely new greenfield projects in the Cal-CAL-ISO, the LADWP and the IID balancing authority areas.

Those projects represent the majority of the present plan to access renewable generation in the state’s competitive renewable energy zones, where the Cal-ISO said substantial amounts of commercial development are already underway. Several transmission upgrades in the IID are intended to access renewable generation in the Imperial County area.

Those projects, which include projects that have been fully permitted by the CPUC and those that are still in the conceptual stage, provide a foundation plan for achieving a 33% RPS and can accommodate a wide range of different resource portfolios that vary with regard to the amounts of distributed generation, out-of-state renewable energy, and large-scale in-state renewable resources, according to the report.

While the Cal-ISO created and compiled the report, the Cal-ISO noted that the proposed transmission projects within balancing authorities other than its own either have been, or will ultimately be, approved through the balancing authorities’ own transmission planning processes.

The report will be used as an input into the 2012/2013 planning cycle as a part of the Cal-ISO’s annual transmission planning process, which will continue to assess the transmission infrastructure requirements with in the Cal-ISO balancing authority area.