By Haig Kartounian, Public Affairs Manager, Southern California Edison (SCE)
The wind is blowing in the California desert, and the propeller-like blades of the Palm Springs wind turbines are beginning to turn. In doing so, they are bringing pollution-free electricity to homes across Southern California through highways of copper and steel we call the electric grid. Each of these turbines can produce up to 300 kilowatts a day – the amount of electricity used by an average household in a month.
The Palm Springs wind turbines are just one part of a larger transformation unfolding across California. Our state is quickly shifting away from energy sources that pollute the environment to more sustainable, renewable energy like wind and solar.
SCE is a longtime leader in renewable energy and has been working aggressively to help all our customers take part in this clean energy future. Currently, more than 46 percent of the electricity that we deliver comes from carbon-free resources. We have been upgrading and expanding the electric grid to ensure our customers have access to the clean power generated by wind farms and solar plants in the desert and can install new technologies, such as rooftop solar, battery storage, and electric vehicle chargers. These efforts are important steps in meeting California’s ambitious 2045 environmental goals.
SCE is committed to helping our customers power their homes, businesses, and vehicles with clean energy. Our Pathway 2045 examines what it will take to build a clean energy future for all of our customers and concludes that reaching California’s 2045 environmental goals will require a significant transformation of how the state sources and uses energy across all sectors of the economy. This transformation includes:
- Decarbonizing electricity: 100% of retail sales from carbon-free electricity
- Electrifying transportation: 75% of all vehicles will need to be electric
- Electrifying buildings: 70% of all buildings will need to use efficient electric space and water heating
Economywide decarbonization will only be achieved by taking these actions and incorporating new, clean energy technologies into our daily lives. Achieving the steps laid out in Pathway 2045 remains the most feasible, cost-effective path to meeting our state’s environmental goals.
Renewable electricity is now cheaper than fossil fuels like crude oil, and the increase of clean energy technologies continues to drive overall adoption costs down. While initially more expensive, renewable energy will become more affordable over time. Continuing to expand and adopt more renewable energy will also make California – and our country – more energy independent. Let’s not forget that the clean energy and investments made to the electric grid are also a tremendous economic development opportunity for the entire state – up to $250 billion of potential clean energy and grid investments, including thousands of craft and skilled jobs.
Further, the reliability of the electric grid is a priority for SCE. To ensure that the adoption of more clean energy resources is seamless, we have been taking steps to make the electric grid more resilient. Infrastructure investments like the West of Devers Upgrade Project are critical to helping all our customers have access to the clean energy future our state is working to achieve.
The Devers Substation is a major transmission hub for renewable and conventional energy coming from the Blythe and Desert Center areas in eastern Riverside County. It has the important role of receiving high-voltage electricity from transmission lines and reducing the voltage to levels that can be carried over the distribution lines within our communities and into our customers’ homes. Additional upgrades are needed to ensure that clean energy is being delivered to our customers across the service territory, especially those living in urban areas.
The transmission lines going west of Devers Substation towards the Los Angeles Basin do not have enough capacity due to the increase of renewable energy coming from the desert. The West of Devers Upgrade Project, located in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, will add the necessary capacity to deliver the renewable power being generated in the desert by upgrading existing transmission lines within an existing transmission corridor. Once completed, this $840-million project will carry up to 4,800 megawatts – enough energy to supply over 3.5 million homes.
The completion of this project – set for the end of 2021 – will be key to helping California reach its goals of obtaining 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, 60 percent by 2030, and 100 percent from carbon-free resources by 2045. It will also provide long-term reliability, address growing electrical needs, and continuity of service for our customers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The West of Devers Upgrade Project is one of many projects and initiatives that SCE is investing in to modernize the grid, harness the full potential of all clean energy resources, help California meet its climate change goals, and provide our customers with safe, reliable, affordable, and clean power.
To learn more about other projects SCE is currently working on, please visit sce.com/about-us.