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California Approves Billions in New Transmission Investment

May 23, 2023
The California ISO approved a new $7.3 billion investment to build a more reliable power grid in the Golden State.

The California Independent System Operator, the non-profit entity overseeing the state’s bulk electric power system and electricity market for its member utilities, gave the thumbs up to a plan that will invest $7.3 billion over the next decade or so into power grid improvements.

The transmission plan earmarks 45 projects for system expansions and upgrades, and was pared down from an earlier version of the plan that called for $9.3 billion and 46 projects, according the ISO.

These investments will support some 40 GW of new resource development, most of which will be built in California. The California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission agreed that this plan was in the public interest.

California's energy future will be a top item of discussion at the T&D World Conference and Exhibition 2023, September 12-14 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center.

To learn more about the California energy market and the future of electricity delivery around the world from high-level utility speakers, register for T&D World here. If you register by August 11, 2023 you can receive a $100 early bird discount on your registration package.

Specific transmission projects provided for by the plan include:

  • A new 500 kV transmission line running west from the Arizona border into southern Imperial County, new 500 kV transmission lines angling up from southern Imperial County to northern San Diego and extending into the southern LA Basin, and upgrades to the existing 500 kV and 230 kV lines along the Interstate 10 (I-10) corridor. Together, these upgrades provide access to east Riverside County, Imperial County and Arizona solar generation, Imperial Valley geothermal, and New Mexico wind generation; 
  • Upgrades to the Lugo–Victor–Kramer 230 kV transmission system to access north of Lugo solar resources; and 
  • A host of smaller upgrades improving access to other smaller resource zones.
  • The ISO also found a need for a new 500 kV transmission line from southeastern Nevada to the eastern edge of the LA Basin and rebuilding of existing southeastern Nevada 230 kV transmission inside the ISO to 500 kV, providing access for Eldorado and Pisgah area solar generation, southeastern Nevada solar and geothermal generation, and Wyoming and Idaho wind generation. In response to stakeholder input and comments, the ISO is evaluating a new alternative – the conversion of the existing Mead-Adelanto 500 kV transmission line from AC to DC operation – before   making a final recommendation. Once the ISO has completed its analysis, a recommendation will be brought to the board of governors either as an extension of this year’s plan or in the next planning cycle.  

Projects identified in the plan will enable critical resource development, including:

  • Over 17 GW of solar generation distributed across the state in solar development regions that include the Westlands area in the Central Valley, Tehachapi, the Kramer area in San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and also in southern Nevada and western Arizona;
  • Over 3.5 GW of in-state wind generation in existing wind development regions, including Tehachapi; 
  • Over 1 GW of geothermal development, primarily in California’s Imperial Valley and in southern Nevada;
  • Access for battery storage projects co-located across the state with renewable generation projects, as well as stand-alone storage located closer to major load centers in the LA Basin, greater Bay Area, and San Diego.
  • The import of over 4.5 GW of out-of-state wind generation from Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico by enhancing corridors from the ISO border in southeastern Nevada and from western Arizona into California load centers.

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