Senator Padilla’s Legislation Crucial to Modernizing California’s Aging Grid Passes State Senate
SACRAMENTO – Today, Senator Steve Padilla’s (D-San Diego) legislation to accelerate California’s efforts to approve energy transmission projects, Senate Bill 619, passed the Senate Floor with bipartisan support.
“California’s efforts to build the clean energy supply of the future will fall flat if we rely on the grid of the past,” said Senator Padilla. “We must act now, to approve new projects and expand our transmission capacity. The state needs to triple the size of our grid over the next decade and we are falling behind every single day.”
California’s bold green energy goals put it at the forefront of the nation’s climate efforts, however, meeting those goals will require a far larger and more resilient electrical grid. New high-voltage cables, modernized existing cable networks, and new infrastructure connecting a grid with a far larger capacity to carry clean electrons to power our homes and economy are all necessary to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals.
Despite the overwhelming need to expand our electrical grid, the California Public Utilities Commission has not authorized a new transmission project in over a decade. The current process requires multiple agencies, duplicative analyses, and permitting processes that take years to complete and create unnecessary cost overruns and substantial delays.
California will need to spend billions in new transmission investments in the next 12 years to meet our existing targets. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) estimates California will require thousands of megawatts of new transmission capacity every year for at least a decade. Meeting this unprecedented demand will require California to simultaneously accelerate planning, siting, permitting, and construction of a modern electrical grid, while carefully managing its costs.
Current transmission projects are delayed by almost 5 years and have run up tens of millions of dollars in extra costs. Absent substantial changes to the state’s current planning and permitting processes, California will not meet its visionary climate goals and the state’s fragile energy grid will experience unprecedented strain.
“The longer we wait to modernize of grid, the greater the costs the state will face,” Senator Padilla said. “California needs to act on the unprecedented investments the federal government has made available for grid infrastructure projects. We owe it to our ratepayers to capitalize on every opportunity to reduce the costs they face, while meeting our climate goals and keeping the lights on.”
SB 619 would expand upon last year’s AB 205 authorizing the California Energy Commission (CEC) to certify transmission projects that cost over $250 million. The measure is a piece of much larger and overdue conversation happening throughout the state on how California can meet its climate goals, deliver reliable power to homes and businesses, manage costs and add transparency to modernizing California’s electrical grid.
“SB 619 is a much needed reform to expedite approvals of badly needed new transmission, to expand solar, wind, and batteries, and enhance affordability and reliability,” said V. John White, Legislative Director for Clean Power Campaign.
SB 619 passed the Senate on a bipartisan 36 to 0 vote and now heads to the Assembly.
Steve Padilla represents the 18th Senate District, which includes the communities of Chula Vista, the Coachella Valley, Imperial Beach, the Imperial Valley, National City, and San Diego. Prior to his election to the Senate in 2022, Senator Padilla was the first person of color ever elected to city office in Chula Vista, the first Latino Mayor, and the first openly LGBT person to serve or be elected to city office. Website of Senator Steve Padilla: https://sd18.senate.ca.gov/