Transmission Planning for More Renewable Energy

A packed audience attended a workshop at the California Energy Commission this week to discuss how the state should prepare its electrical transmission system to accommodate more renewable energy sources.

Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller and California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker, through a letter to California Independent System Operator President Steve Berberich, called to action agencies and participants to develop portfolios for use in long-term transmission planning for the Balancing Authorities of California.

From left-to-right: CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Kevin Hunting, CPUC Commissioner Michael Florio, Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott, Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller, CPUC President Michael Picker, Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas, OPR Director Ken Alex, CaISO Vice President Keith Casey.
The effort is known as the Renewable Energy Transmission initiative (RETI) 2.0. During the workshop, members of the public and stakeholders learned about the purpose, goals and the abundant opportunities for stakeholder participation that will be considered as more renewable energy is incorporated into the electrical system to provide needed energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other local, state, and federal agencies and tribes will be consulted as well.

RETI 2.0 is modeled after the first Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative of 2008. That project sparked further land-use planning exercises like the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The DRECP is addressing energy demand while guarding the state’s biodiversity in the Southern California area in a much more robust fashion than what might have happened through traditional approaches.

The latest initiative will help California meet its goal to increase renewable power generation to 50 percent. Increased renewable energy will play a part in helping California reach Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Part of the motivation behind this effort stems from the experience of the Sunrise Powerlink, which had a contentious permitting process. That is why California energy leaders say it is important to get transmission planning smart from the start. Once the Sunrise Powerlink was energized, the transmission line was fully utilized by new wind, solar and geothermal projects from the east within a year. The transmission line allows for more than 1,300 megawatts of renewable energy to be delivered from the Imperial Valley to San Diego.

This week’s workshop kicked off what will be a transparent stakeholder process intended to reduce transmission permitting times through careful planning.

Public comments for RETI 2. 0 should be submitted by September 24 by visiting

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Renewable Energy

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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