First Native American tribe set to be a transmission owner in the ISO

Folsom, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2021) – The Morongo Band of the Mission Indians is on track to become the first Native American tribe to be a participating transmission owner in the California Independent System Operator (ISO) footprint, creating a critical connection to help meet the state’s green energy goals.

The ISO Board of Governors recently approved the Morongo Transmission, LLC application, which is majority-owned by the Morongo Band of the Mission Indians. It marks the first time a federally recognized tribe has received the designation within the ISO’s balancing authority.

“This is a very important step in diversifying the ISO’s stakeholder base,” said CEO and ISO President Elliot Mainzer. “I’d like to recognize the Morongo Band of the Mission Indians and Southern California Edison for their creativity and flexibility in developing an innovative ownership structure that enables this critical transmission project to proceed.”

The Board’s action supports the completion of the West Devers project, which connects solar, wind, and battery resources located in eastern Riverside County and Imperial Valley to the grid.

The ISO first approved the need for the project in 2011, calling for Southern California Edison (SCE) to upgrade 48 corridor miles of existing transmission lines – 184 circuit miles – of 220-kilovolt circuits with high capacity conductors designed to increase the power flow by 3,200 megawatts (MW). To gain access to critical right-of-way on the Morongo Indian Reservation in Riverside County, SCE entered into an agreement with the tribe exchanging the right for the tribe to invest in a share of the transmission project.

The transmission line upgrade is scheduled for completion in May and supports California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

The Board’s action is conditional on the review and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Source: California ISO

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