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California grapples with 'interconnection crisis' on quest to hit bold new goals: 'We really need to solve this'

"If you can't address transmission and infrastructure, then those goals aren't going to be met."

California aiming to push through 'interconnection crisis' for bold new energy goals

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California is finding that it isn't always easy to go green, according to an article by Inside Climate News that spotlights the "interconnection crisis" slowing the state's transition to clean energy. 

California has some of the most ambitious climate policies in the country, including reaching net-zero carbon pollution by 2045. This will be achieved in part by not allowing any new gas-powered cars after 2035 and calling for seven million climate-friendly homes by 2035.

Inside Climate News reported that achieving these and the rest of its goals will require the state to add significant capacity and quadruple the amount of wind and solar energy on its grid. 

Grid interconnection ties a network of local grids together at the same frequency and allows the exchange of energy from grids with surplus power to those that need more than they can produce.

In theory, connecting to the grid is easy, but projects are having to wait too long — sometimes years — for approval to interconnect. These delays have affected clean energy projects of all sizes and have drawn scrutiny from many groups, including environmentalists. 

Earlier this year, 35 California organizations called for action on that "interconnection crisis" from the governor's office and the legislature, and several bills and measures have moved forward ahead of deadlines. 

The U.S. Department of Energy reported that almost 40% of all planet-warming pollution comes from the burning of dirty energy to create the energy we use. Switching from dirty energy sources to clean ones like wind and solar is imperative to stop the overheating of our planet, and slowdowns like the backup of interconnection will make achieving clean energy goals in California and elsewhere difficult. 

Brett White, vice president of Pine Gate Renewables, told CNBC, "Even with all of the work, with all this great stuff that's in the IRA and all of the wind that is in the sails of decarbonization in the renewable industry, if you can't address transmission and infrastructure, then those goals aren't going to be met." 

Laura Feinstein, sustainability and resilience policy director at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, agreed, telling ICN, "We can have all the ambitious goals we want, but if we can't get people connected to the grid, it could all fall apart … We really need to solve this."

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