The first phase of a $1.85 billion high-voltage transmission system necessary for the development of one of the biggest collection of wind farms in the United States goes to the California Independent System Operator board on Jan. 25, the grid operator said on Friday.
The Cal ISO staff recently recommended to the ISO board that it approve the project.
“The project goes a long way to helping us green the grid,” said Cal ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle.
The developer of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, Southern California Edison, seeks approval from the grid operator and also the California Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to decide on the project’s first phase in about two months.
“We’re not going to deliver this wind generation without these lines,” said Gary Tarplee, director of electric system planning for SCE. “We’ll build as many of the line segments as we need to (transmit) generation that ultimately develops” in Tehachapi.
Tarplee said about 4,500 megawatts of wind power are expected to be built there. The three investor-owned utilities in California are expected to buy wind power from developers of the wind farms and not take ownership of the turbines.
The first phase will begin operation by 2009 with the ability to carry about 700 megawatts of wind power from the Tehachapi area, said Tarplee.
California has mandated that 20 percent of the electricity delivered by the state’s three investor-owned utilities be made by renewable generation such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.
With the full Tehachapi transmission system that will be able to carry 4,500 megawatts not expected to be on line until 2013, it will be a “challenge” for SCE to meet that 20 percent mandate by 2010, SCE says, even though its renewable power generation is 16 to 17 percent of its portfolio.
“SCE expects to have renewable contracts equaling 20 percent of the power it delivers to customers by 2010,” said an SCE spokesman. “Transmission limitations may prohibit delivery of some contract energy until after that deadline, which is allowed for under the flexible compliance provision of state law.”
SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International
SCE along with investor-owned utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric own the power grid that the Cal ISO manages. This grid carries about 80 percent of the California’s electricity. The Tehachapi system will connect to the Cal ISO-managed grid.
PG&E is a subsidiary of PGE Corp.
After the first phase of the project goes through state regulatory approval before spring, SCE will file plans for the full project with the Cal PUC in June, Tarplee said.
Most of the rights of way for the transmission project’s path have been purchased, Tarplee said. Once the full project is built, it will cover about 150 miles of California landscape. With much of the system having parallel lines, the total mileage for the transmission system will be between 300 and 350 miles.
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