Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown presses case for expanding California’s power grid

Jerry Brown's energy pitch: 'interaction and happiness' between coal and sun lovers

Gov. Jerry Brown spoke about the regionalization and the future of alternative energy at a symposium in Sacramento on Sept. 7, 2016.
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Gov. Jerry Brown spoke about the regionalization and the future of alternative energy at a symposium in Sacramento on Sept. 7, 2016.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who last month delayed his proposal to integrate California’s largest electricity grid with other states, on Wednesday acknowledged the political difficulty of such a plan but said a broader grid is necessary to support growing renewable-energy production in the West.

“The efficiency of a wider grid is … unmistakable,” Brown said at a symposium hosted by the state Independent System Operator in Sacramento. “And the imperative is greater efficiency, greater elegance and intelligence in the way we use and produce electricity, in the way we market it, in the way it moves around the system.”

Brown’s remarks came a day before he travels to Los Angeles to sign Senate Bill 32, landmark environmental legislation requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. He will also sign Assembly Bill 197, giving state lawmakers more authority over the California Air Resources Board.

Brown has been seeking for more than a year to expand the influence of California climate policies by integrating California’s Independent System Operator with other states. The fourth-term Democrat called last year for an evaluation of a joint venture between the ISO, which manages electricity transmission in California, and PacifiCorp, a Portland, Ore.-based utility that supplies electricity to customers in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

We’re looking at human tragedy. We’re also looking at huge expenditures.

Gov. Jerry Brown

Proponents said allowing power companies to share electricity across state lines could reduce the number of renewable-energy facilities needed to achieve California’s greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

But Brown told legislative leaders last month that he wanted more time to study the issue. Some environmentalists warned a merger could lend support to PacifiCorp’s coal-fired plants, while other groups raised concerns about ratepayer fees, job impacts and how an integrated system would be governed.

Brown on Wednesday urged energy officials considering a merger to work together across state lines to “make sure that those who love coal and those who love the sun can sit down and work in a totally seamless web of interconnection.”

Brown, a longtime champion of environmental causes, said humanity has a steep “hill to climb if we’re going to be able to prevent the worst consequences of a changing climate.”

Brown said wildfires, drought and tree die-offs provide a “glimpse” of what the world will look like due to a changing climate.

“We’re looking at human tragedy,” he said. “We’re also looking at huge expenditures.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, issuing an ominous appeal on climate change, spoke at a climate change conference in Vatican City on July 21, 2015, saying the world may already have “gone over the edge” on global warming and that humanity must reverse course o

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders