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California regulator approves transmission projects for wind power

March 28, 2007 Refocus.net

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved two projects to construct transmission to reach areas with high potential for green power resources.

The regulator authorized Southern California Edison to build the second and third segments of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project to facilitate delivery of wind resources from windfarms in the Tehachapi area and to prevent overloading of existing transmission facilities. It previously determined there was a need to construct transmission lines to Tehachapi to facilitate the Renewables Portfolio Standard goal to have the state's investor-owned utilities obtain 20% of their power from renewables by 2010.

Earlier in March, the PUC approved construction of SCE’s Antelope-Pardee transmission project in the Tehachapi region, which was the first segment of the project. Together, the three permits are worth US$1 billion of investment in California's energy infrastructure.

Tehachapi-Vincent includes a total of 56.8 miles of new high-voltage lines and two new substations. The PUC set a cost cap of $63 million for Segment 2 and $102.1 million for Segment 3; both segments are projected to be in service by early 2010 and will enable delivery of 700 MW of new wind generation from Tehachapi.

Combined with the Antelope-Pardee line, the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project will provide 4,500 MW of capacity from the Tehachapi resource area into the Los Angeles Basin. SCE anticipates filing for approval for eight more segments of the Tehachapi project this summer.

The Final Environmental Impact Report for the transmission project found “several significant environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated” and “some impacts will remain significant even after the implementation of mitigation,” the decision notes. “Upon balancing the substantial economic, operational, legal, technological, social and other benefits of the proposed Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project against the unavoidable environmental impacts, we find that the project should be approved with the conditions contained in this decision.”

The EIR identified an environmentally superior alternative that differs from SCE’s proposal, but the PUC approved the project as proposed by SCE, rather than the environmentally-preferred alternative.