California Bulk Transmission Permitting Process (CA)
The steps of the California bulk transmission permitting process are summarized in the chart below. Roll over each section for a summary of the regulations and permits it covers. Click a section to learn more about the required permits and regulations related to that topic.
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Bulk Transmission Development in California
Electrical transmission in California falls under the jurisdiction of three entities: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which determines need and is responsible for siting new facilities; The California Energy Commission (CEC), which addresses policy and forecasting in biennial reports, has jurisdiction over establishing new transmission corridors in the state and which licenses thermal power plants over 50 MW; and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which annually plans transmission upgrades for and operates as the balancing authority for more than 80% of the California grid (see chart below). CAISO is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and carries out its activities in close collaboration with the CPUC and CEC.
As part of the Western Interconnection, additions and connections to the electrical grid in California are planned as part of the WestConnect and CAISO regional planning entities that were established under FERC Order 1000. CAISO is the West’s only Independent System Operator and collaboratively plans and has responsibility for operating the grid for the state’s investor owned and FERC jurisdictional entities. California publicly owned utilities are organized in WestConnect for regional and interregional planning and cost allocation determinations. They typically plan and operate transmission under the jurisdiction of their local governments or the elected boards of their respective utility or irrigation districts. Both WestConnect and CAISO also participate in interconnection-wide transmission planning under the auspices of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC).
The Western Electricity Coordinating Council and the newly formed WECC spin-off company, Peak Reliability, are responsible for planning, coordinating and promoting Bulk Electric System transmission and reliability in the Western Interconnection, including in California. WECC analyzes system needs and futures and coordinates the planning activities of its members as part of its Regional Transmission Expansion Planning (RTEP) project. Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Imperial Irrigation District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, San Diego Gas & Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, PacifiCorp, Bonneville Power Administration, Transmission Agency of Northern California, and Western Area Power Administration provide transmission services in the state of California.
California Energy Policy
The Warren-Alquist Act (Division 15 of the Public Resources Code) designates the Energy Commission as the state's primary agency for energy policy and planning. Every two years, the commission is required to prepare the Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) for the Governor and Legislature. The IEPR addresses transmission needs to meet goals related to electricity and natural gas, transportation, energy efficiency, renewables, and public interest energy research.