Published: MARCH 28, 2017
Western Grid Integration Will Provide Cheaper, Cleaner, More Reliable Energy to California, Saving Consumers over $1 Billion Annually
Group of Environmental, Public Interest, Renewable Energy and Small Business Advocates Send Letter to Sacramento Leadership Urging Legislative Action
SACRAMENTO — A new campaign backed by environmental, public interest, renewable energy and business advocacy groups, Secure California’s Energy Future, today urged the California Legislature to begin the process of integrating the Western power grid, which could save Californians billions of dollars on their electricity bills and speed up the transition to cleaner sources of energy, including solar and wind.
The groups — which include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Bay Area Council, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), Union of Concerned Scientists, Health Care Without Harm, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Sierra Business Council, Solar Energy Industries Association and SunPower — sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León and Speaker Anthony Rendon, urging the leaders to support legislation to integrate the grid.
Threatened federal action to undercut the Clean Power Plan makes the case for Western grid integration even stronger, as it is an effective way to reinforce all the California and West-wide momentum toward clean energy progress and carbon pollution reduction — and to reestablish the climate policy leadership exemplified by the Clean Power Plan itself.
Full integration of the Western power grid would:
- Maintain Western states’ control over their own respective utilities and energy policies.
- Reduce costs and improve reliability for electricity customers across California and the West, saving billions of dollars — and millions of tons of pollution — over the next two decades.
- Grow California’s clean-tech sector and create good-paying jobs for working families.
- Reduce the growing need to ‘turn off’ and waste clean, affordable solar- and wind-generated electricity in California by creating access to a larger marketplace.
- Help California to meet its renewable energy targets by increasing coordination.
- Increase transparency and safeguard against price gouging by unscrupulous power marketers.
The policy proposal, a legislative priority for Governor Brown, would authorize the state’s major grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), to transition to a regional operator that other Western operators could join and with an independent board. While physically connected by transmission lines across the region, operation responsibilities for the Western transmission system are currently divided among 38 separate bodies. Broadening the geographic scope of CAISO in collaboration with other Western states who wish to participate will enable California to meet its renewable energy targets and increase the efficiency and coordination of its energy grid.
Ralph Cavanagh, Co-Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Energy Program:
“California has an opportunity — and a responsibility — to continue its leadership in responding to our climate crisis by working to integrate the Western grid. It also will lower energy costs and carbon pollution, benefitting our communities. While the White House and some in Congress are trying to roll back the climate progress we’ve made, Sacramento can take action and secure California’s energy future.”
Tim McRae, Vice President for Energy, Silicon Valley Leadership Group:
“Integrating our Western grid offers can put billions of dollars back into the economy and in the pockets of hardworking Californians. Done right, big tech companies to local solar panel installers to small family farms in the Central Valley would benefit from a fully integrated Western grid.”
Jim Wunderman, President and CEO, Bay Area Council:
“Businesses in the Bay Area — and across California — are making huge investments in solar generation, as it becomes more and more cost competitive. That’s not only a win for the environment; it also reduces energy costs and allows us to create new good-paying jobs across our state. Integrating our Western grid will allow this promising trend to continue.”
Mary Solecki, Western States Advocate, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2):
“By speeding up the transition to clean, affordable energy sources like wind and solar, and opening California’s clean energy markets, this proposal will expand our clean tech sector and create good- paying jobs for Californians. Integrating our Western grid is a critical step forward that benefits the environment and our economy — a step that leaders in Sacramento must take.”
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:
“Every day, California is basking in clean, affordable, reliable solar electricity. By enabling the state to fully utilize this solar resource, including sharing it across state lines, Californians will reap the benefits of increased jobs and investment and billions of dollars in electricity savings.”
For additional information about the campaign and Western grid integration, please visit www.SecureCAEnergyFuture.org.
Samuel Garrett-Pate and Rachele Huennekens