California's Electric Power Grid: Poised for Change

The California Independent System Operator (California ISO), one of 10 independent system operators in the United States, maintains a grid that is absorbing more and more renewable energy.

That means the California ISO and the state's aging electric grid is poised for change.

The California Energy Commission, along with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California ISO, is considering a change that would turn the existing grid into a regional grid operation for the West.

A regional ISO opens opportunities to help California reach its energy goals, including increasing the electricity derived from renewable sources to 50 percent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Monitoring the power from the grid now happens at the California ISO’s state-of-the-art facility in Folsom in a control room where a bank of screens arcs across a large wall. It’s the nerve center for the California ISO, which is a nonprofit that manages electricity flow for 80 percent of California’s power grid and a portion of Nevada’s.

It’s a 24/7 operation where engineers sit at semi-circular banks of computer stations monitoring weather, market and grid transmission data screens that Google designed. The information is analyzed in real time.

To facilitate electric transmission coordination and planning, the Energy Commission, CPUC, and the California ISO initiated the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0, also known as RETI 2.0.

The initiative is designed as an open, transparent and science-based process exploring key issues related to transmission coordination. Issues include the renewable generation resources offered in the West, critical land use issues, environmental constraints and potential transmission opportunities.

The Energy Commission will host its next RETI meeting on July 29. Details about the meeting can be found here.

The insights, scenarios and recommendations developed at the meeting will frame and inform future transmission planning proceedings.

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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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