The California Independent System Operator Corp. is revealing a modernized approach to power grid operations with the release of its new five-year strategic plan. Between now and 2020, wind and solar generation will quadruple within the ISO transmission grid at the same time electric vehicle charging increases dramatically. Advancements in technology including distributed generation such as storage, as well as smart grid developments, are also reshaping grid and market operations.

The changes to the industry are the most significant seen in the past 100 years and bring both tremendous opportunities as well as transitional challenges. This is especially true because the transformation comes just as California’s fleet of ocean-cooled coastal gas-fired plants dwindle due to new water regulations requiring they either retire, repower or be retrofitted to protect marine life.

“We are excited to be a partner in California’s world leading environmental and energy goals,” said Steve Berberich who became president of the nonprofit grid operator in June. “The challenging but rewarding path to achieve a more sustainable future is not ours alone and will require deep collaboration within the electricity industry as well as a commitment to maintaining a high level of reliability. The new strategic approaches we outline in our plan address those needs and will help transition to the energy resources of tomorrow.”

The ISO engaged with staff, industry stakeholders and its board of governors to determine the priorities the ISO should focus on in order to ensure reliability while also meeting important environmental policy objectives. With these factors in mind, the ISO developed a new long range planning vehicle titled Reliable Power for a Renewable Future.

The plan focuses on four key strategies:

  • Facilitate California’s transition to a smarter, cleaner, more reliable and secure energy future
  • Ensure continued reliability during grid transformation
  • Strengthen California’s global leadership commitment to renewable, responsible and reliable electricity
  • Explore opportunities for regional collaboration and focused technological innovation

As a supplement to this year’s strategic plan, the ISO also developed California ISO’s Electricity Road Map. This map simplifies the complexities of a cleaner, greener power grid that continues to evolve to serve the people of California while strengthening security and reliability.