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

Electric transmission lines in California.

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 adopted a 35 million metric ton (MMT) electric sector greenhouse gas emission (GHG) planning target. That goal, also to be achieved by 2032, is tighter than an earlier 46 MMT GHG target.

The CPUC said its February 10 decision equates to 73% Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) resources and 86% GHG-free resources 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 said the process to include offshore wind in IRP capacity expansion models began in early 2020 and is due to wrap up 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 said that three load serving entities already have included around 300 MW of offshore wind 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.  

The CPUC said this finding would be validated in detail by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in its 2022-2023 Transmission Planning Process (TPP). The TPP is an evaluation of the CAISO transmission grid to identify grid upgrades needed to address reliability, meet state policy goals, and 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. 

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