A contentious proposal to link oversight of California's electric grid with other Western states faces a crucial test Tuesday in a state Senate committee.
Supporters say regionalizing the grid would make it easier and cheaper to deploy renewable energy across the western United States. But critics, including some environmentalists and consumer advocates, say California would jeopardize its efforts to require the expansion of renewables.
California has greatly expanded the use of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar, but that has brought new challenges for grid operators to manage supply and demand as weather patterns and sunlight vary.
Proponents of a regional grid say improving cooperation across the western United States would make it easier to use renewable resources from other states to meet demand in California, and vice versa.
But critics say that same infrastructure could be used to boost demand for natural gas or coal power produced elsewhere.