Governor Jerry Brown is dusting off a nearly 20 year old proposal that would expand the California electricity grid and link it with grids in other states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.
The plan is raising questions in the energy and renewables sector about how much the expansion would actually contribute to clean energy and what the state’s continuing role would be in controlling the electricity grid.
Another part of the plan would combine the California Independent System Operator (CalISO), which oversees the state’s long-distance transmission of electricity, with Oregon-based electricity producer PacifiCorp.
Legislators and environmentalists are concerned that the partnership would make it hard to meet the state mandate that 50 percent of electricity Californians get comes from clean sources like wind or solar, because PacifiCorp has a lot of coal-fired power plants. They’re also concerned that combining PacifiCorp, an investor-owned company, with CalISO, for which the Governor appoints the board and the Senate approves it, would dilute the state’s control over how energy is distributed.
Carl Zichella, director of Western Transmission for the Natural Resources Defense Council