California PUC adopts plan to add 25.5GW of renewables by 2023

Transmission lines near Los Angeles, California (Courtesy: Robert Thiemann/Unsplash)

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved plans to add around 25,500 MW of renewable energy resources and 15,000 MW of energy storage and demand response resources by 2032. 

The decision also established a 35 million metric tons (MMT) electric sector greenhouse gases emission (GHG (GHG) planning goal. This goal is also to be met by 2032 and is more stringent than the 46 MMT GHG target.

According to the CPUC, its February 10th decision equates with 73% Renewables Portfolio Standard resources (RPS) and 86% GHG-free resources up to 2032.  

The preferred system plan portfolio differs from one previously adopted by including more solar and battery storage, as well as new long-duration storage, out-of-state wind, and offshore wind resources.  

The decision stated that the process to include off-shore wind in IRP capacity growth models began in 2020 and will conclude in 2022. A March 2021 joint agency policy report to state legislators showed that offshore wind was likely to be needed in California’s 100% clean energy portfolio by 2045. 

The commission stated that three load-serving entities had included approximately 300 MW offshore wind in their integrated resources plans. Those resources would connect to the state’s electric power grid at interconnection points in Humboldt County and at Central Coast locations. 

Including offshore and out-of-state wind resources show their increased viability as “cost-effective resources” to help meet state goals, the CPUC said.  

A preliminary analysis of CPUC’s preferred system plan portfolio of the load serving entities (LSEs) indicated that sufficient space exists for these new resources on the existing transmission system. It said that “only limited transmission upgrades” would be needed by 2032.  

According to the CPUC, this finding would be confirmed in detail by California Independent System Operator (CAISO), in its 2022-2023 Transmission Planning Process. TPP is an assessment of the CAISO transmission network to identify grid upgrades required to improve reliability, meet state policies, and provide economic benefit. 

The regulatory decision also ordered utility procurement of two battery storage projects that were identified by the CAISO as alternatives to transmission upgrades in the previous TPP cycle. The projects are both in Pacific Gas and Electric’s service area. They include a 95 MW 4-hour storage resource on the Kern-Lamont 115 kV system and a 50 MW 4-hour storage resource at the Mesa 115 kV substation.