Becker Wants To Prioritize Transmission Line Construction
California Needs To Build 15,000 Miles Of Transmission Lines
In The Next 30 Years To Modernize Power Grid And Meet Demand
(Sacramento) – Making it easier and quicker to build the estimated 15,000 miles of new transmissions lines California will need in the next 30 years to modernize its power grid is the aim of SB 420 – The California Transmission Prioritization Act (CalTPA) – by Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo), the chairman of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy.
“California’s power grid is over 100 years old and it’s time to both modernize it and cut the time it takes to get power to areas where demand is growing quickly,” said Becker. “The idea behind CalTPA is to eliminate some of the bureaucratic duplication that needlessly increases the time it takes to break ground on approved projects and slows down our ability to get clean energy where it needs to go.”
The California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) 20-year outlook for transmission planning, written in partnership with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), estimates more than $30 billion in new transmission capacity will be needed by 2040. Princeton’s Net-Zero America study predicts California’s transmission capacity would need to triple by 2050, building the equivalent of about 150 new 100 mile-long transmission lines.
There are two main issues that delay the construction of desperately needed transmission projects.
The first is lawsuits filed against projects. Proposals designated as “Environmental Leadership Development Projects” (ELDP) benefit from a quicker judicial review of suits filed against them, requiring cases to be resolved in 270 days.
The second is a requirement for transmission projects to undergo a duplicative economic review at the PUC even though CAISO has already done such a review and deemed a project is necessary to be built.
These requirements can add three to four years – if not more – to the construction timeline.
Under SB 420’s CalTPA approach, all transmission projects would have access to the same expedited judicial review system enjoyed by ELDP proposals and the PUC’s duplicative economic review would be effectively eliminated.
“This isn’t about cutting corners, it’s about streamlining the process and getting power where it needs to go in a reasonable timeframe,” concluded Becker. “We talk a lot about bringing new clean energy projects online and while that is critical, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. We need to be able to get that power from the plant to the homes and businesses that need it, because having a clean power plant ready to go but just sitting there idling doesn’t benefit anyone.”
SB 420 will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on March 29, 2023.
First elected in 2020, Senator Becker represents the 13th Senate District covering portions of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and includes the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Half Moon Bay, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside.
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