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Final leg of SCE renewable energy project gets OK

The California Public Utilities Commission approves construction of the last segment of line for the 250-mile Tehachapi transmission project in Kern County.

December 18, 2009|By Tiffany Hsu

Southern California Edison got the green light Thursday to build the final segments of a nearly $2-billion transmission line that will connect customers with renewable energy produced by windmills.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the construction of the last 173 miles of Edison's 250-mile Tehachapi transmission project in Kern County.

The line will be able to transmit as much as 4,500 megawatts of electricity produced from wind, enough power for nearly 3 million homes.

Separately, federal energy regulators approved a settlement Thursday under which the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed to refund about $112 million for wholesale power sales made to utilities during the energy crisis that raked California and other Western states in 2000 and 2001.

In 2006, Edison and PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. sued LADWP and 18 other government entities, seeking to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged electricity overcharges during the power market meltdown.

The Los Angeles utility didn't admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The refunds go to Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers.

With the project approved Thursday, the state commission has given the nod to more than 500 miles of transmission lines in the last three years, focused mostly in five major lines with a total capacity of 9,000 megawatts.

Construction of the transmission line's new segments will start in 2010, and the line is expected to be ready in 2014, said the utility, which is owned by Edison International of Rosemead.

The bill for the total project is estimated at $1.8 billion; it will mostly be built along routes with existing transmission infrastructure.

The commission approved in 2007 the first three segments of the line, which will deliver 700 megawatts once construction wraps up in the near future.

The decision helps move the state closer to its goal of using renewable resources for 33% of its energy use by 2020, an objective reinforced by an executive order signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September.

The commission also approved four renewable-energy contracts for California utilities Thursday, including Sempra Energy's Copper Mountain solar photovoltaic project in Boulder City, Nev.

Using tilted thin-film solar panels, the facility is expected to produce 48 megawatts after it goes online June 1, 2011.

Edison will move forward on three projects, two of them producing wind energy for a total of up to nearly 160 megawatts.

A five-megawatt project will produce energy from gas created by a Ventura County landfill.

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