Clean and Resilient: Policy Solutions for California’s Grid of the Future

June 2020

California’s electrical grid is both at the core of the state’s aggressive decarbonization goals—with targets of 60 percent renewable power by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045—and a major source of community vulnerability, with power lines responsible for many of the record-setting wildfires of 2017 and 2018, including the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise. Utilities and regulators have instituted preemptive power shutoffs to limit this risk, but these events can leave vulnerable communities and residents without access to essential health and safety services.

Technologies like distributed renewable generation, microgrids, energy storage, building energy management, and vehicle-grid integration will be essential to promote community safety and resilience while advancing the effort to decarbonize the grid. But these investments will require significant policy and financial support to achieve these dual state goals over the coming decade.

To address this need, CLEE and the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law convened a group of California state energy regulators, local government leaders, grid experts, and clean energy advocates for a convening on California’s electrical grid of the future. Our report, Clean and Resilient, is based on this expert group’s findings.

The report highlights the top policy solutions the group identified to address the financial, regulatory, and data barriers to clean, resilient grid deployment, including:

  • Promoting performance-based regulation at the California Public Utilities Commission, to ensure that the public benefits and necessity of investments in reliable, carbon-free technology are fully accounted for.
  • Reforming grid interconnection processes (including CPUC Rules 2 and 21) to create a presumption in favor of new microgrids and other distributed technologies and to equitably share the cost of associated grid upgrades.
  • Initiating a new energy data collection and management process at the California Energy Commission to ensure communities, technology providers, and regulators have access to the data that will drive the grid of the future.

You can access the report and its full set of policy recommendations here.

Read the op-ed in CalMatters, California’s looming wildfire threat requires a clean, more resilient electrical grid


Ted Lamm, Climate Law and Policy Fellow

Ethan Elkind, Director of the Climate Program