ORIGINAL REPORTING: New Push For An Organized Western Power Market
State Regulators Study Transmission Needs, New Transmission Options Highlighted
Herman K. Trabish, July 27, 2021
Editor’s note: Studies now show enormous benefits from Western regionalization and policymakers throughout the West are pushing harder to create an organized power market.
California’s goal to acquire massive amounts of new wind, solar, and storage won’t be reached if the transmission needed to deliver it is not built, policymakers, developers, and analysts stressed at a July 22 Joint Agency workshop.
To make its SB 100 clean energy mandate, solar and wind resources need to be tripled annually and eight times as much storage must be added every year. The state must go from 22 GW of required portfolio qualifying renewables in 2019 to roughly 48 GW in 2030, and keep up that same pace through 2045, according to the California Energy Commission’s SB 100 report.
While the pace of new resource growth is accelerating the pace of transmission development is not, Neil Millar, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) vice president of infrastructure and operations planning, said during the workshop late last week. Workshop participants offered solutions to the planning, siting, and financing of new transmission needed.
Workshop presentations called for immediate acceleration of in-state and out-of-state transmission development to connect with renewables across the West to meet mid-2020 goals. By the end of this decade, a bigger vision for transmission of California’s abundant, untapped offshore wind resource should be considered, participants added.
Preliminary research shows the most cost-effective approach with the least-impact to meeting SB 100 goals would be to coordinate in- and out-of-state resources, The Nature Conservancy California Energy Strategy Director Erica Brand said during the workshop. Balancing Authorities in the Western Interconnection could help resolve financing challenges, said Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Rodgers. Interconnecting into the 15-state WAPA territory gives California transmission developers access to the federal low interest Transmission Infrastructure Program, she pointed out.
Collaboration with other public power entities also can allow access to other sources of low-cost financing, added California Municipal Utilities Association Counsel Tony Braun and representatives for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Imperial Irrigation District (IID). But resource development that shifts ratepayer costs and land uses to other states to protect California land limits indirect benefits like jobs and tax revenues to Californians, regulators warned… click here for more