The California Independent System Operator approved its 10-year 2013 transmission plan that includes $1.7 billion in investment with 41 projects, including new substations, voltage support, and transformers. \tThe board also voted on a West-wide wholesale market for imbalance energy and a technical method for regional transmission planning as required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. \tThe unanimous board decision March 20 on the $1.7 billion investment in new transmission projects allows those proposals to advance. It both put those projects in the pipeline and gave them the risk-less underpinning to garner financing. The decision also prioritizes projects for areas\u2014like Southern California\u2014where they\u2019re expected to be required largely for reliability. \tThe board noted that it\u2019s continuing to plan for reduced nuclear power, assuming no electricity input in the near future from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. A transmission upgrade to get around San Onofre\u2019s outage is expected to cost $75 million, according to Neil Miller, CAISO executive director of infrastructure. \tIn what the agency is heralding as a breakthrough deal, the board approved an agreement with Oregon\u2019s PacifiCorp for an \u201cenergy imbalance market.\u201d The outside-the-California-box deal reflects the \u201chard work of the Western Governors\u2019 Association\u201d to incorporate fast-ramping (five-minute dispatch) power plants with varying demand on a West-of-Rockies plan, noted the board. In response, PacifiCorp is set to pay a $2 million fee into the system. The northern utility could bid 10,000 MW into California\u2019s main transmission system. Other power owners may join, like PaciCorp, on a \u201cpay-as-you-go\u201d basis, according to the grid operator. The up-front fee covers the grid operator\u2019s computer, and other, forward, costs. \tThe grid operator is on cruise control at the moment, according to Steve Berberich, grid operator chief executive officer. \tHe added it\u2019s been an uneventful late winter. \u201cThe principal issue going into [summer] is a very limited snowpack,\u201d noted Berberich. That means there\u2019s less hydroelectric resources to tap\u2014both for peak power and for filling in renewables\u2019 gaps. Berberich noted that hydro\u2019s a concern in Southern California, with two-thirds of normal supply. \u201cIt doesn\u2019t put us in a bad situation overall,\u201d he advised the board. \tWith a laconic attitude towards hydro, the non-operational San Onofre nuclear unit is expected to make the grid operator\u2019s staffs life \u201chectic\u201d this summer, according to Berberich. \u201cIf [supplies are] tight, we\u2019ll definitely have to lean on\u201d reductions, he said. \tIn other news, the Merced Irrigation District joined the agency\u2019s grid. Merced offers transmission and 110 MW of hydroelectricity. \tCAISO controls most of the state\u2019s grid\u2014all investor-owned utility territory, but not necessarily the public power agencies. Thus, the agency is anxious to annex others\u2019 territories in its quest to make the transmission system more efficient via economy of scale. \tThe board noted that in the renewables queue to connect with the grid operator are three times more projects than required under the state\u2019s 33 percent renewables portfolio standard. Not all of those projects are expected to actually be built, but being accepted into the grid operator\u2019s queue is a milestone for raising financing for potential development.