The state senate on Friday (September 9) amended a bill that could cramp California's plans for clean energy, say critics. The bill would set up a regional independent system operator to replace the current California System Operator (better known as CAISO.) Now, the California Independent System Operator oversees the state's bulk electric power system, transmission lines, and electricity market; basically, CAISO attempts to operate the grid efficiently and fairly.
The amended senate bill could go to the senate's Energy Committee today (September 11), believes Maria Severson, San Diego attorney. Such a bill was defeated last year but was "sneakily" put into a larger bill Friday, she says.
San Diegan Bill Powers of Powers Engineering, along with Loretta Lynch, former head of the Calfiornia Public Utilities Commission, say the concept of regionalization of the independent system operator is based on "faulty assumptions," such as that it will provide $1.5 billion in economic savings to California. Actually, regionalization could eliminate green jobs and reduce the state's gross domestic product by $500 million, they say.
Also, those pushing regionalization falsely claim that out-of-state wind resources could be cheaper than California-based renewable resources, say Powers and Lynch. Severson says that coal-fired energy from PacifiCorp, a group of Western utilities owned by conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, could enter California. She suspects politics is in play.
"Pacificorp is heavy in coal and needs to move it to maintain any value of that investment," she says. PacifiCorp "undoubtedly" feels "that now is the time because [President] Trump loves coal."
Severson's law partner, Mike Aguirre, believes that regionalization would transfer control of California's grid to corporations that would harm the state's clean-energy program. California politicians "are using secrecy, surprise and deception to turn over control of the California electricity system to energy manipulators that took California to economic disaster between 1998 and 2000," he says.
Aguirre flew to Sacramento to fight the bill. Severson and Aguirre represent the Imperial Irrigation District, which opposes regionalization. PacifiCorp has a group of geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley.