CPUC allows construction to resume on part of California’s TRTP

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given Southern California Edison (SCE) permission to resume construction on a portion of Segment 8A of the contested Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP).

The CPUC order was issued March 22 in response to a motion filed by SCE Feb. 17 that asked the CPUC to expressly confirm that a previously issued stay applied “only to those portions of Segment 8A that lie within the City of Chino Hills or that would become unnecessary or obsolete if the Commission were to select one of the 21 identified alternatives,” according to the order.

In its motion for modification, SCE said work on the project in areas outside of Chino Hills “and unaffected by the potential selection of any of the alternatives remains critical to the completion of TRTP.”

The utility said work on other portions of segment 8 would take place approximately two miles west of Chino Hills’ city boundary “and would remain in the substantially same form and location as originally engineered regardless of whether or not there were modifications to the approved Chino Hills route or if one of the alternatives were mandated,” the motion continued.

SCE’s motion was uncontested.

SCE began constructing a five-mile stretch of the 250-mi, 500-kV line through the city in May 2011, but residents objected after the first tubular steel poles were erected, claiming their visual and economic impact was far greater than previously envisioned.

The city filed an objection with the CPUC, which ordered on Nov. 10, 2011 that work on the Chino Hills stretch of the project be halted, and SCE was ordered to provide the CPUC with information on alternate routes.

On Feb. 14, the two sides started mediation under the CPUC’s alternative dispute resolution program in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Though several sessions were held during which proposals were presented and discussed by both sides, the parties “were not able to reach agreement on a resolution that met the needs of both parties,” the two sides said in a March 6 joint statement announcing that mediation had been suspended.

The parties returned to court on March 19 for a prehearing conference before a CPUC administrative law judge (ALJ); next steps have not yet been announced.

It appears that SCE could resume work on the project in the next few days, an SCE spokesperson told TransmissionHub on March 23. “Typically, the environmental monitors check the site’s biological resources, plants and wildlife/species to ensure those resources, if any are identified, are reported and protected. Then we can proceed,” the spokesperson said.

SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX).

This story was updated after originally published on March 23 to include comments from SCE.