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California Has Its Sights Set on a $6.1 Billion Grid Expansion to Support Offshore Wind and Clean Energy Goals

California is accelerating its transition to clean energy with a revamped 2023-2024 transmission plan proposed by the California Independent System Operator (ISO). The $6.1 billion plan prioritizes grid reliability and…

California is speeding up its move to clean energy with a new 2023-2024 transmission plan proposed by the California Independent System Operator (ISO). The $6.1 billion plan focuses on making the grid more reliable and incorporating offshore wind power.

Creating a Path for Offshore Wind Energy:

A key part of the plan is integrating offshore wind farms off the coast of Humboldt County. The ISO plans to invest $4.59 billion to build new transmission lines specifically for carrying electricity from these floating wind turbines. Neil Millar, ISO vice president for infrastructure, describes this as “the first wave of development for offshore wind to meet the state’s energy needs.”

Cooperative Planning for a Green Energy Future:

Recognizing the challenges of integrating large-scale clean energy sources, the ISO is taking a new, cooperative approach. This involves working closely with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) to streamline resource planning, interconnection processes, and transmission development. This improved coordination is crucial as California aims to add a remarkable 8,000 MW of clean energy each year over the next two decades.

Beyond Offshore Wind: A Varied Clean Energy Mix:

Though offshore wind is a major focus, the plan also underscores the importance of having a diverse clean energy portfolio. The ISO suggests projects that will aid in the development of over 38 GW of solar generation, over 3 GW of in-state wind generation, and over 21 GW of geothermal development. Additionally, the plan supports the import of over 5.6 GW of wind energy from neighboring states and the integration of battery storage projects throughout the grid.

Public Engagement and Progressing Forward:

The ISO is actively seeking input from the public on the draft plan, with stakeholder comments due by April 23rd, 2024. After this phase of public engagement, the ISO Board of Governors will review the final plan in May 2024. If approved, the ISO will start a competitive process to identify contractors for eligible projects.

California’s ambitious push for clean energy aligns with broader national efforts. The recent approval of the eighth commercial-scale offshore wind project by the U.S. Interior Department contributes to President Biden’s objective of permitting 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. California’s improved transmission plan sets the stage for integrating significant renewable energy sources while ensuring grid reliability, laying the groundwork for a clean energy future.

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