Western Grid Integration Planning Hits Snag

Aug 10, 2016

The control room of the California Independent System Operator, the organization that run the state's grid.
Credit KQED

Concerns about who would be in charge of an integrated Western grid are delaying a decision on the issue, even though it is expected to increase the use of renewables across the West and save consumers millions of dollars. 

Integration would merge California’s grid and parts of the grid owned by PacifiCorp in five western states, including Wyoming. Despite the potential benefits, there has been pushback from environmental groups in California who oppose the merger because of PacifiCorp’s heavy reliance on coal-fired power. Lawmakers and regulators in coal states have also expressed reservations, saying the proposed governance structure would put too much control in California’s hands.

California Governor Jerry Brown wrote in a letter this week that because of those concerns, he is no longer asking state lawmakers to consider the integration plan before the end of the legislative session on August 31. 

In an email, Wyoming Public Service Commissioner Bill Russell praised Brown’s decision, saying it will give everyone “valuable time to work the issues and the opportunity to achieve greater consensus.”

The California legislature could take up the measure during its next session in January.