California’s electric grid operator recently approved its 2022 — 2023 Transmission Plan. Here’s why it’s crucial to act now:
The energy sector is at an inflection point where the promise of a lower-carbon future is within grasp. To reach ambitious climate goals, modernized transmission infrastructure is needed to get cleaner energy to those who need it. The reality is that to deliver reliable energy and meet the world’s net-zero goals — including in California by 2045 — significantly more transmission infrastructure is needed. The growing share of renewables and need to integrate distributed sources of energy — such as rooftop solar, fuel cells, and advanced batteries, combined with growing electrification of transportation and other sectors — highlights the importance of modernized grid infrastructure.
The growing need for infrastructure investments
50 million miles
The same Bloomberg NEF report estimates 80 million kilometers in grid growth between 2022 and 2050 is needed to replace the global electricity grid — that’s nearly 50 million miles, or enough transmission lines to circle the globe 2,000 times.
4.05 trillion kWh
Electricity consumption is up across the U.S. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported consumption was 4.05 trillion kWh in 2022, which is the highest amount ever recorded and that number is anticipated to keep growing in future years.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the average American home uses 10,715 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. As buildings and homes electrify and consumers adopt electric vehicles, electricity consumption per household is poised to grow.
12.5 million EVs
EV demand is growing worldwide but particularly in California where the state reached its 1.5 million EV sales two years ahead of its 2025 target, according to the California Energy Commission. State leaders expect there will be 12.5 million EVs on the roads by 2035.
Sempra is a leading energy infrastructure company with deep expertise in developing and operating safer and more reliable transmission and distribution infrastructure across its three business platforms: Sempra California, Sempra Texas and Sempra Infrastructure. Notably, Sempra companies throughout North America have built and operate nearly 300,000 miles of transmission and distribution infrastructure. In 2022 alone, Sempra’s family of companies invested more than $5 billion in critical energy infrastructure to bring cleaner energy sources onto the grid, help strengthen community resilience against extreme weather events and help to increase safety and reliability.
Sempra California’s San Diego Gas & Electric has more than 1,800 miles of transmission that are proactively monitored and modernized for improved safety and reliability. Modernization efforts include integrating the latest smart grid technologies into SDG&E’s innovative wildfire management program and moving transmission lines underground in high fire threat areas to help protect the grid and communities. Additionally, SDG&E’s Southwest Powerlink and Sunrise Powerlink both exceed 100 miles and are in the highest transmission voltage class in California (500kV). Together, these high-voltage lines facilitate the import of about four gigawatts of power from renewable rich areas into California communities, which is enough for approximately three million homes.
Sempra Texas’ Oncor has been quick to respond to the growing energy demands of the state’s expanding population. In 2022 alone, Oncor placed approximately $1.1 billion of transmission projects into service. To do so, Oncor’s service territory required the construction or upgrading of roughly 340 miles of transmission lines.
Serving California’s energy needs
On May 18, the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors — California’s electric grid operator — approved the 2022 — 2023 Transmission Plan, which identifies transmission capacity required to fulfill the energy needs of the state’s residents. State energy leaders identified 45 potential projects for system expansion and upgrades to maintain reliable energy in the state and meet cleaner energy goals, including as many as five in SDG&E’s service territory. Most of the proposed projects will support more than 40 gigawatts of new resource development identified by CAISO leaders as “cost-effective and needed” to meet California’s energy goals.
By the numbers, we can see that updating and expanding California transmission infrastructure is clearly needed. Sempra stands ready to develop the infrastructure to support critical energy needs in California, Texas and beyond.