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California will spend $3 billion over the next few years to prep its grid for renewables

Preparing utility grids for the renewable energy revolution can be a costly business, according to the system operators that keep electricity flowing.

California's system operator, for instance, just approved $3 billion worth of transmission projects to cope with the dramatic increase in renewable energy generation and the growth load across its territories, according to the outlet Utility Dive.

The money should support better transmission and distribution lines and increased flexible and localized microgrid development that can better manage the variable power that comes from localized renewable energy generation.

Energy storage projects like big chemical batteries or thermal or mechanical energy capture are likely also on the menu. Those technologies have the ability to store renewable energy from big, utility-scale projects and dispatch them at times when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining enough to meet power demand.

For California, it's a massive increase in spending compared to the average sticker price of $217 million that the state normally spends on transmission and distribution projects, according to Utility Dive.

This spending should be a boon for companies that are working on developing new technologies to address all of these grid-related issues.

Those are businesses like Fluence, which sells energy storage technologies and recently signed a deal with the battery tech developer QuantumScape for new projects. QuantumScape is just one of a number of new energy storage companies trying to solve the problem of managing variable power generation from renewables.

The order from California is likely one of the biggest from a utility on transmission infrastructure in decades -- and is a sign of how the sleepy electricity industry will change as the world continues its transition from fossil fuels.


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