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

California has electric transmission lines

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, which must be achieved by 2032 as well, is even more restrictive than the 46 MMT GHG goal.

According to the CPUC’s February 10th decision, 73% of Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), resources were available and 86% are free from GHG by 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. 

According to the commission, three load-serving entities have already included offshore wind of around 300 MW in their integrated resource 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. The TPP is an evaluation and planning process for the transmission grid of CAISO to identify grid upgrades that will improve reliability, meet state policy goals, or provide economic benefits. 

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.