Forests of turbines march up the foothills west of Mojave into the Tehachapi Mountains, turbines that take Valley winds and turn them into electricity.
The power produced by these wind farms and their planned expansion is the basis for Southern California Edison’s proposed Antelope Transmission Line. The high-voltage electric transmission line will deliver this electricity for use elsewhere in Southern California.
The proposed transmission line will help Edison meet the state-legislated requirement of 20% of its electrical power created by renewable sources and will allow for further expansion of the wind industry in eastern Kern County.
Although SCE had been looking at ways to utilize that energy for several years, it was not until state legislation passed that it became feasible, Edison spokeswoman Alis Clausen told members of the Mojave Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
“They can’t build until they can get the energy out, and we can’t build until they’re there,” she said.
Two years ago, the independent system operator, which controls energy transmission throughout the state, determined there was enough potential to build the line. “The wind industry has been starved for transmission since 1986 “¦ when the transmission lines were saturated,” said Hal Romanowitz, president of Oak Creek Energy Systems in Mojave.
The hills west of Mojave offer ideal conditions for production of wind energy. The turbines already installed produce 730 megawatts of electricity, he said, with plans to raise that to 4,500 megawatts in the next phase. The proposed Antelope Transmission Line will be capable of carrying 1,100 megawatts of electricity. Future phases of the project could increase that capacity, Clausen said.
The project is undergoing the approval process by the California Public Utilities Commission. Routes suggested in the draft environmental impact report for segments of the line between Lancaster and Santa Clarita have been a source of controversy during recent hearings on the matter, where residents have opposed placement of the lines near their homes.
The proposal initially made by Edison would use existing rights of way through the Angeles National Forest. The route follows a line from the operating station on the northwest side of Lancaster, crossing forest land and passing Elizabeth Lake Road west of Bouquet Canyon Road and across the southern portion of San Francisquito Canyon Road on its way to the facility in Santa Clarita.
The public comment period is closed. The final report is expected next year. The decision on which route the line will take will be made after that, Clausen said.
By Allison Gatlin
Valley Press Staff Writer
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