Although California is blessed with some of
the best geothermal, wind and solar resources in the U.S. -- as well as
the policies and legislation in place to do take advantage of those
resources -- a number of the renewable energy-rich areas are too far
from the electric transmission grid to render them useful.
"We've made tremendous
progress developing the transmission plan to bring electricity from the
wind-rich Tehachapi Mountain area to Southern California customers. Our
goal with RETI is to identify the next Tehachapi."
-- Dian M. Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission
In an attempt to alleviate this dilemma, California has formed a public-private partnership called the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative
(RETI) to consider the feasibility of building new transmission lines
to access renewable generation. The goal is to bring renewable
electricity to the grid as it is generated from isolated areas of the
state or possibly adjoining states.
"We've made tremendous progress developing the transmission plan to bring electricity from the wind-rich Tehachapi Mountain
area to Southern California customers," explained California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. "Our goal
with RETI is to identify the next Tehachapi."
RETI is designed to
rapidly develop renewable energy to meet the state's mandate of
producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010
and goal of 33 percent by 2020. The CPUC, the California Energy
Commission, the California Independent System Operator (California ISO)
and representatives of publicly owned utilities, including Sacramento
Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the Southern California Public
Power Authority (SCPPA), are spearheading the initiative.
lines for electricity from renewable sources becomes critical as
predominantly out-of-state coal-fired power plants, which produce
approximately 17 percent of California's electricity, begin to provide
a smaller percentage of the state's electricity as mandated by the
Electricity Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (SB 1368, Perata) to reduce
greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
development of renewable resource areas throughout California is
necessary to meet this renewable energy goal," said Energy Commissioner
Jeffrey Byron. "RETI should result in transmission solutions that
everyone can agree on to bring renewable energy resources to the grid."
initiative will serve to identify major renewable zones to be developed
throughout the state. As envisioned, the consortium also plans to rank
all renewable rich resource areas in and around the state to establish
an order in which transmission lines to these areas should be
In addition RETI will:
• Operate as
a stakeholder planning collaborative and will involve a broad range of
participants, first to gather information and advice, and then to build
active and consensus support for specific plans for renewable energy
and related transmission development;
within the existing planning processes at the California ISO, including
any modifications to that planning process resulting from compliance
with Order No. 890 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
Support Energy Commission energy policy development, transmission
planning, transmission corridor designation, and power plant siting to
help facilitate and coordinate the planning and permitting of renewable
energy related transmission and generation and minimize duplication of
• Work with the publicly-owned utilities (POUs), investor-owned utilities (IOUs), and developers.
Shetler of SMUD said the initiative "will help the municipal utilities
gain better access to renewable resources in order to meet both
aggressive renewable energy targets and eventual greenhouse gas
Bill Carnahan of the SPCCA added, "The
municipal utilities look forward to adding the output of the RETI
effort to our long-term transmission planning process."
September 20, the group's first public forum will meet to bring the
sponsors and stakeholders together to discus the initiative and the
Reader Comments (10)
the "Sunshine State", is offering a rebate program for solar
installations. The Florida Energy Act, passed in
2006, iprovides incentives for both private as well as
commercial structures. Additionally, a 30% tax incentive was
put into place just this month to encourage solar energy growth.
lack of adequate infrastructure is a significant issue for
many renewable engeries, with the notable exception of solar PV
on homes and business. Many of these power sourses are marginally
profitable at best which makes the cost installing 5, 10 or 50
miles of power lines a deal buster.
costs don't end just at the point of generation. Some of the state's
electrical backbone is already at capacity in many regions including
the central valley of the state, which impedes sharing power between
Northern and Southern parts of the state. (to the South's beneifit for
now). That's up to 250 miles of high voltage lines needing to be
upgraded or there is no capacity to deliever the energy.. Then the
communities at both end protest any additional lines being added which
causes endless delays.
communities protest? The ESQs “For profit Intervener’s, or the CA ISO
“Docketed Appeal before FERC” [Removal of Transmission Barriers]
communities? Lets find communities in the vastness of the Southern
California Mojave Desert. Have the so and so Wire Co. [private, not
IOUs] bid on 230 kV trunk lines at cost of less than $700K/mile, as
well as on capacity improvements between Kramer and Lugo substations,
not limited to switchyards, with stipulation “Time is of an Essence”,
i.e., maximum allowed time of 12 months for permitting and 12 months
for construction, or visit the Ninth Circuit, to resolve once and for
all that fiasco. Which
facilities are marginally profitable? The existing QFs, or the
proposed? May have to invoke "Math 20% by 2010", if the judiciaries
seeks “Propounded Interrogatory and Depositions”. There may be another class “Not for Profit Interveners". The “For the Security of United States of America”.org (FTSOUSA)? The status quo and business as usual is over. There are certain ESQs on the other side of the isle.
Wind and solar power are clean and free. What more can we ask
for. I have a solar panel and it saves me about ten to twenty
dollars a month on my heating bill. It was installed in1987 and it just
sits there and gives me heat for free all winter long.
Jim, many of the issues you mentioned exist whether they tie in remote RE or not.
added cost that must be considered is really the transmission lines to
the remote energy and not upgrading systems that must be upgraded
regardless of where the power comes from.
With oil above $80/bbl
helping to push up all energy prices, RE becomes more and more
competitive. I get excited just thinking about the opportunities.
Just some thoughts on this, it is a difficult subject that needs extensive study:
is my understanding that the folks in Europe sat down and determined
what their generation capacity would be needed at a future point in
time, and then decided to provide subsidies to consumers who would help
them achieve their generation goals. So instead of spending large
capital outlays on newer power plants they have subsidized smaller
distrubuted energy systems with the same projected money requirement.
This is a complex issue that is being researched and reviewed as we speak, which is good.
states have already passed laws limiting the size of smaller scale
systems. These smaller distributed systems should lessen the load on
the grid thereby increasing capacity.
I would recommend being
carefull of huge supergrids to desolate areas (similar to oil
production, pipelines, shipping, etc...) and focusing on improving the
exisiting grid and promotion of smaller distributed energy systems
owned and operated by the utilities and property owners. This will
provide for a greater economy at the local levels, pride in ownership,
environmental respect, energy efficiency awareness, and grid security.
is a myth coursing around the renewable energy community that we
can do without larger renewable power installations at the most
favorable locations. These comments overlook the great
variation in renewable energy flux from location to location.
There are some places with poor wind and sun resources and others with
much of both. A windmill or solar panel at one location or region
can produce many times the amount of electricity that it can in another
region. Transmission lines allow us to substitute renewable
energy sources for the still cheap coal and other polluting
resources. We will never have a shot at substantially reducing our
carbon emission unless we use both central and local renewable power.
some people have wanted to attach an agenda about the size of
society and industrial infrastructure to renewable energy.
If they are right and we need to "re-size" our society, renewable
energy does not necessarily support this argument and they will need to
base their arguments on other foundations.
To be considered by the new RETI process, the sponsor of a proposed
transmission line and Cal-ISO should make a public commitment up front
that the line in question will be used only to transmit RENEWABLE
energy. Every company that wants to build a new ratebase
increasing transmission lines, have learned to greenwash their
projects by saying them might be used to move renewable energy from
remote areas to user centers, but none of them have been willing to
publically commit to that happening. The RETI process shouldn't waste
time promoting new lines that might be used to transmit fossil fuel
energy, it if want to live up to its name.
SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR REDUCING TRANSMISSION LINES:
USING RENEWABLES (WIND, SOLAR, ETC) IN REMOTE AREAS MAKE HYDROGEN &
OXYGEN GASES (ELECTROLYSIS) TO USE IN A "SOG" DEVICE THAT IS POLLUTION
FREE, ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD.
THE RESULTING PRODUCTS OF THE "SOG" DEVICE ARE WATER AND HEAT TO
PRODUCE ELECTRICAL ENERGY. A "HYDROGEN ECONOMY" IS THE FUTURE.
3.) NO FOREIGN OIL REQUIRED! NO "GREENHOUSE GASES".
Biomass LLC will construct a 50 MGW biomass (wood chip) electric
generating plant in Russell, MA on a 100-year-old industrial brownfield
site, restore the town to fiscal stability through our tax payments,
provide new jobs, and contribute half of the 100 MGW renewable energy
target for western Massachusetts. We will be able to use a
five-mile transmission line path that formerly provided
electricity to Russell for a paper mill to instead provide electricity from
Russell to the power grid. We have agreed to move the transmission
line route down the mountain adjacent to the railroad tracks to
mitigate any damage to the wildlife habitat. While the town fathers
support the biomass plant our NIMBY opponents have protested use of the
transmission route in their latest effort to stop the project.
For an object lesson about what it takes to develop a major renewable energy project I refer you to www.russellbiomass.com and to www.http://www.concernedcitizensofrussell.org/