While the new governor advised the Capitol this week that his policy consists of ?action, action, action,? the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) lamented its current, less digestible policy line: ?uneconomic congestion.? The CAISO board of directors recognizes that while it has to cooperate with a new state administration, it is mired in technical jargon that interferes with its communication with the new administration and the public in general. Michael Kahn, CAISO chair, opened this week?s meeting with an invitation to governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger to ?Come visit us. The ISO will do everything in its power to cooperate with the new administration.? As a carrot, the board instructed grid operator board staff to drop the energy-speak and explain what CAISO?s problems are in plain English. The problems that need to be translated have now converged on the lack of transmission, particularly in the San Diego area. When the problem was lack of generation, the message was clear. ?We could say, ?There aren?t enough things that make electricity,? Kahn explained. But the problem has moved from lack of supply to transportation limits. ?The whole concept of congestion is absolutely impossible for people, the legislature, to understand,? Kahn said. He suggested something along the lines of some Japanese restaurants that have photos and lifelike wax displays of the menu items for easy comprehension. One example: showing a picture of a transmission tower when using the term ?congestion.? The phrase that gave the board pause, ?uneconomic congestion,? applies primarily to the San Diego area. Brian Theaker, CAISO director of regulatory affairs, noted that the grid operator is paying about $34 million a year to decongest the area?s transmission. He explained the problem in simple terms. ?It?s a little like Pin the Tail on the Donkey. You fix something there [in the transmission system] and it moves elsewhere,? said Theaker of the overall San Diego transmission problem. The board noted that the lack of transmission is affecting the area?s ability to access cleaner, newer power plants on the Mexican border just as emission allotments are being squeezed by local air boards. To address that problem, the board voted to approve three upgrades sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric for $22 million. Those are relocating a transformer from Imperial Valley to the Miguel substation, upgrading capacitors, and upgrading a 2.6-mile stretch of line called Proctor Valley?Telegraph. The communication between the grid operator and the new governor?s administration involves not only a change of problem points but a change in the governor?s familiarity with convoluted energy lingo. Governor Gray Davis lived through the energy crisis as a politician and could finesse some of the jargon. And Davis had Kahn at his side as counsel and CAISO board chair to spell out the problem when needed. But Kahn no longer has access, thwarting his ability to be a direct translator. To establish a common thread of language and communication, the CAISO board instructed its public relations staff to establish a program of outreach to both the Capitol and mainstream media.