California Energy Commission Seal
California Energy Commission
California Energy Commission Seal
California Public Utilities Commission

For Immediate Release: August 12, 2009
CONTACTS - Adam Gottlieb, 916.654.4989
Terrie Prosper, 415-703.1366 news@cpuc.ca.gov

CONCEPTUAL TRANSMISSION PLAN FOR ACCESS
TO RENEWABLE ENERGY ANNOUNCED

SACRAMENTO - The Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) today announced the availability of its Phase 2A Report -- a conceptual transmission plan that evaluates the usefulness of potential transmission lines in accessing and delivering renewable energy. The plan is intended to help enable development and approval of renewable energy infrastructure in ways that minimize the economic cost, environmental impacts, and number of new transmission facilities.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Energy Commission, and California Independent System Operator (CAISO) formed RETI, and were quickly joined by Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the Northern California Power Agency, and the Southern California Public Power Authority. RETI is a unique public-private partnership to consider the feasibility of building new transmission lines to access renewable generation from various areas of the state or possibly adjoining states and bring the power to population centers.

The first phase of RETI identified areas of the state and adjoining regions that have high densities of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind resources. These areas are referred to as Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ). RETI Phase 2 work expanded the evaluation and re-ranking of CREZs and focused on the development of a statewide conceptual transmission expansion plan to access the CREZ.

The conceptual transmission plan is designed to meet the goal of obtaining 33 percent of the state's electricity from renewable resources by 2020. It was created with valuable input from an engaged Stakeholder Steering Committee comprised of representatives of environmental groups; renewable developers; public and investor-owned utilities; state, federal, and local governments; Native American tribes; and consumers.

"Insufficient transmission is a major barrier to developing renewable power and bringing the power to where it is needed," said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. "This report is the result of a process that has never been attempted before; a process that was designed to achieve consensus."

"Transmission planning will go hand in hand with the implementation of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan," said Commissioner Jeffrey Byron, presiding member of the Energy Commission's power plant siting committee. "The plan, as required by the Governor's executive order streamlining permitting and environmental review of renewable projects, will coordinate renewable generation and transmission development, while conserving precious habitat."

California ISO President and CEO Yakout Mansour added, "The ISO applauds the diligent efforts of the RETI parties. The work is foundational to successful implementation of California's renewable portfolio standard."

Jim Shetler, SMUD Assistant General Manager for Energy Supply on behalf of public utilities, lauded the stakeholders for their efforts in developing the Phase 2A Report. "The output from this report will assist those of us who have to plan, permit, and build transmission in making more informed decisions on integrating renewable energy delivery into our planning for grid reliability," he said.

In issuing this report, the RETI Stakeholder Steering Committee hopes that it will contribute towards building public understanding and support for the difficult task of building transmission. "Smart planning produces good results," said Johanna Wald of the Natural Resources Defense Council and member of the Stakeholder Steering Committee.

"RETI is the improved model for good planning: Anyone who plans a line from now on needs to realize that RETI has set a new standard for public involvement in all stages of transmission planning," according to Carl Zichella of the Sierra Club.

The report will be used by state and local agencies as well as utilities and members of the public in developing detailed transmission plans. Based on information available today regarding the potential for renewable development, the report:

  • Identifies additional transmission capacity to access and deliver renewable energy to meet the state renewable energy goals in 2020.
  • Evaluates relative usefulness of potential lines for accessing the delivering renewable energy.
  • Identifies potential transmission network lines for further detailed study by the California ISO and electric utilities.
  • Locates most conceptual lines in existing right of way and/or designated utility corridors.
  • Builds in environmental considerations and high level screening of conceptual transmission lines.
  • Incorporates a wide range of stakeholder perspective.

However, the report does not preclude study of other potential renewable development areas.

For the RETI Phase 2A report, please visit
www.energy.ca.gov/reti/documents/

For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

For more information on the Energy Commission, please visit www.energy.ca.gov