California ISO preparing for expansion after governor signs law

california iso transmission

The California ISO and clean energy advocates praised Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. and state lawmakers on Oct. 7 after Brown signed legislation to increase California’s renewable portfolio standard and have the California ISO prepare to become a multi-state grid operator.

The law (SB 350) requires California to increase the use of renewable resources from 33 percent to 50 percent by the end of 2030. It also calls for the California ISO to prepare governance modifications to aid the transition to become a regional grid operator, similar to other regional transmission organizations that operate in several states.

The law “paves the way for expanding the electricity grid throughout the western states,” California ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich said in an Oct. 7 statement. “A multi-state western grid will foster improved coordination over a larger geographic footprint, which is key in using renewable energy to meet consumer demand more efficiently at a lower cost.”

As TransmissionHub reported, the California ISO has experience with a governance change, having modified the governance of its energy imbalance market as utilities in other states have joined or committed to join the EIM.

The California ISO has been working on a regional market to address the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, a California ISO spokesperson told TransmissionHub in September, and the California ISO has said such a market would be designed to increase renewable energy supplies, while creating disincentives for sending coal-generated energy to California.

The group, Environment California, noted that the legislation also calls for California to double the state’s use of energy efficiency in buildings by the end of 2030.

“Once again, the state of California is acting on the long-held values of Californians for a swift transition to a clean energy future,” Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California, said in an Oct. 7 statement.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) also praised Brown’s signature of the legislation in an Oct. 7 statement that mentioned the RPS boost in the law, which further diversifies California’s energy resources.

“Importantly, SB 350 contains a strong directive for California to continue promoting regional cooperation with neighboring states and utilities – providing California customers access to broader regional energy markets that will help lower prices,” AWEA said.

Touching on the California ISO expansion, AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said the trade group supports a more efficient market in the West.

“This would let California trade energy surpluses and deficits with its neighbors in a way that maximizes wind energy’s low cost benefits to California consumers,” Kiernan said in the statement.

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