California ISO approves three-year plan for transmission grid

The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) board of governors unveiled its new three-year plan for evolving the high-voltage transmission grid into a sophisticated digital network that is both secure and sustainable.

“Building a Sustainable Energy Future 2014-2016 Strategic Plan” positions the California ISO encourages participation of clean resources, such as demand response and energy efficiency, which give consumers a new role in managing personal energy use based on a choice of where their electricity comes from and when they use it. Throughout the plan, the ISO demonstrates its commitment to preferred resources, which also include renewable power and advanced energy storage.

Taking into account the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the plan also factors in a critical infrastructure refurbishing of the Southern California electric network that is complicated by looming compliance deadlines for large once-through cooled power plants in the region.

In total, about 7,000 MW of generation could disappear in the next several years. Maintaining reliability during this transition while further reducing the grid’s carbon footprint is a pivotal priority within the plan.

Three core strategies serve to anchor and focus the ISO performance management framework in the years ahead and define the capabilities to accomplish them. They include the following:

1. Lead the transition to renewable energy

2. Maintain reliability during industry transformation

3. Lead regional collaboration.

Taking advantage of geographic diversity in the West will support all three key strategies through energy resource sharing that facilitates reliable integration of renewable power in the region. Expansion of the ISO energy imbalance market is a key part of the strategic plan as it will unlock mutual benefits between grids.

ISO analysis shows including western neighbors in its real-time market lowers wholesale electricity costs while helping meet energy policy goals and strengthening reliability. The broader array of resources optimizes the efficiency provided by the ISO’s automated system that balances electricity supply and demand every five minutes.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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