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Renewable Reality Check

How solar PV could redraw the map for green energy and grid investment.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2009

$20 billion as would be needed to construct 10,000 MW in new transmission capacity. Power’s figures were based on recent SDG&E’s cost projection of $1.883 billion for the 1,000-MW Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, or just under $2,000/kW.

Powers summed up his case:

“There is no possible economic justification for constructing high-cost transmission to remote wind and solar resources if for the same transmission investment California IOUs can build far more thin-film PV at substations or at the point of use than the transmission lines built at such high cost can actually carry.”

But recall that the ultimate goal of RETI’s work is “to identify major upgrades to California’s electric transmission system needed to access competitive renewable energy zones sufficient to meet the state’s energy targets.”

That mission statement, taken directly from the RETI Phase 1B report, prompts the following observation from Joan Taylor, chair of the Sierra Club’s California/Nevada Desert Energy Committee:

“The outcome of the RETI process is a foregone conclusion—a transmission-dependent system of large, remotely located power plants.”