Southern California Utility Plans $12 Billion Investment to Light Up Electric Grid

The primary electricity supply company in Southern California hopes to upgrade the system so it has a more green impact on the environment.

by Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times / November 4, 2015

(TNS) -- Over the next three years, Southern California Edison, the state's second-largest investor-owned utility, plans to spend $12 billion to modernize the electric grid, the chief executive of the utility's parent company said Tuesday.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Ted Craver, chief executive of Edison International, said the utility is adjusting for changes in technology with rooftop solar and other innovations.

The majority of the yearly $4 billion spent each year will be used on upgrading transmission systems. Roughly $240 million a year, or about 6%, will go toward new power generation, he said.

“Our challenge is to provide electricity with little environmental impact without choking out economic growth and job creation,” Craver said.

“Today, perhaps more than any other state in the U.S., California has made greenhouse gas reductions a priority,” he added. “This state has one of the most ambitious renewable energy mandates.”

Utilities in California and throughout the nation are grappling with the rapidly changing electric industry as innovations with rooftop solar and other individualized or so-called “distributive” resources become increasingly cost effective.

Edison is not alone in its planned investments over the next three years.

Craver said the utility industry trade association, the Edison Electric Institute, projects that the nation’s power companies will spend $300 billion over the next three years on capital projects.

About $100 billion of that will go to new power plants, such as natural gas-powered facilities, as well as solar and wind farms. Utilities expect to spend about $150 billion on wiring the system and the rest for the natural gas system.

Craver said Edison’s investment over the next three years will enable the utility to prepare for a future in which individuals may play a role in selling electricity on the market.

“Someday, there may be a marketplace where customers sell the power they generate while others are buying it,” Craver said. “Think Bitcoin or eBay, platforms that match buyer or seller on an individual basis. We’re preparing for that day when we may provide that platform using our network.”

©2015 the Los Angeles Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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