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Regulators Forum: Shifting Winds, Shifting Strategies

State regulators grapple with investments, supply planning, and structural issues.

Fortnightly Magazine - November 2005

construction in California right now.

Our utilities haven't invested in renewables directly yet, and I wish they would show as much eagerness to build renewable projects as they do to build CCGTs [combined-cycle gas turbines]. We are giving them a return-on-equity premium to invest in renewables, and over time they will see it's in their best interests to build it themselves.

Q: Where do reliability questions fit into the PUC's agenda?

A: We have a lot of T&D infrastructure that was built in the halcyon days after World War II, and that equipment is coming to the end of its useful life.

Transmission issues are a major component of the reliability question. One lesson learned from the Northeast Blackout in 2003 was that you need a strong, integrated overall system, yet in California we are going through balkanization. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power isn't part of the California ISO, and now the Western Area Power Administration has left to join the Sacramento Municipal Utility District control area. It's not clear where this will go, and I am troubled by it. I can only decry that has happened, and say that we should be going the other way.