Yes on AB 538
CALIFORNIA NEEDS AN AFFORDABLE AND RELIABLE 100% CLEAN ENERGY GRID. AB 538 IS THE LOGICAL NEXT STEP.
Last year lawmakers unanimously passed ACR 188, directing the state’s grid manager –
CAISO – to report how a regional transmission organization (RTO) can help California achieve its clean energy and environmental goals. The report concluded: “California’s goals for renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction can be achieved more quickly and with less cost to Californians through expanded regional cooperation.” It also determined expanded regional energy cooperation vital to maintaining a reliable grid.
By passing AB 538, lawmakers will enable CAISO to lead the creation of an RTO across Western states – setting the stage for a stronger grid to more affordably, reliably, and sustainably power California’s 21st Century economy. California retains its ability to have its representatives to a Western state committee be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.
What is an RTO?
Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) are independent, membership-based, non-profit organizations that operate electricity grids across state lines, oversee regional wholesale electricity markets, and provide regional reliability planning. Seven RTOs cover about half the states and two-thirds of U.S. energy demand. Membership in an RTO does not impact a state’s authority to determine its own clean energy procurement priorities.
AB 538 GIVES CALIFORNIA A CHANCE TO LEAD INSTEAD OF BECOMING ISOLATED, LIKE TEXAS.
California imports a third of its power, which helps keep the lights on every day and provides a lifeline during emergencies such as last September’s 10-day heat emergency. CAISO already collaborates with 14 Western states and portions of Canada and Mexico in a real-time energy market that has reduced California’s energy costs by $689 million.
AB 538 enables California to lead the West in creating an RTO before that choice is gone. Some Western states have passed laws requiring participation in an RTO. The Southwest Power Pool – an RTO based in Arkansas – is asking Westerners to join in the pursuit of a clear goal: isolating California. In March, many of California’s long-time energy allies in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia signaled their openness to abandoning the CAISO-led Western energy market and joining SPP.
California faces a simple question: Will CAISO lead a Western-driven RTO, or will the state risk becoming isolated while a Southern RTO expands at our expense? The challenges of powering California’s grid alone are a recipe for disaster – more blackouts, higher energy prices, and a weaker economy. An isolated energy grid is the Texas approach. Its grid failed two years ago, instigating a massive winter blackout causing 246 Texans to freeze to death and up to $130 billion in damages.