The following information was released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS):
With calls growing for more coordination in energy planning across the West, the Union of Concerned Scientists today released an analysis of how a multi-state power grid could bolster reliability and streamline the clean electricity transition for tens of millions of people.
The policy brief explores the implications of expanding California's grid operator into one that manages the electricity grid throughout the West, creating a larger and more integrated regional energy market.
"A western grid operator could improve access to renewable energy, bolster grid reliability, and coordinate transmission system planning, thereby reducing overall costs and greenhouse gas emissions," according to the analysis. It cautions, however, that there are multiple risks: "California's renewable energy requirements could be impacted, the consequences for in-state gas power plants are uncertain, and changes to grid governance would alter who is involved in decision-making processes."
Already, a bill recently introduced in the California Legislature would allow CAISO, California's grid operator, to transition from a politically appointed leadership into an independent governance structure. That would enable it to expand across multiple states as a Western regional transmission organization, also known as an RTO.
The policy brief cautions that California policymakers must carefully consider how to best link the state's grid with the rest of the West as well as weigh the risk of inaction if Western utilities organize without California.