No movement in negotiations between Chino Hills, SCE

Two weeks after confidential settlement negotiations were announced between Southern California Edison (SCE) and the city of Chino Hills, Calif., on the routing of the 500-KV Tehachapi renewable transmission project (TRTP) power line through the city, neither side is reporting any progress (Docket No. A07-06-031).

While an SCE spokesperson told TransmissionHub on May 18 that, “We have agreed to resume confidential negotiations facilitated by the [California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)],” and the city of Chino Hills confirmed that “[C]onfidential negotiations [are] still underway,” neither side would provide additional details.

The CPUC announced the negotiations in a May 3 statement, noting that the negotiations “represent an effort by the CPUC, SCE, and the city of Chino Hills to agree upon undergrounding the line beneath the existing right-of-way in the city.”

Not everyone was pleased by the development. Less than a week after the announcement, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) filed a motion calling upon the CPUC to halt the negotiations.

In its May 9 filing, CEERT charged that the negotiations excluded other interested parties beyond SCE and the city of Chino Hills. In addition, it asserted that the fact that the CPUC joined the negotiation process “fail[s] to comply with either commission rules or applicable legal standards,” the group said in its motion.

The CPUC will “have to do its due diligence” before ruling on the motion but does not have a specific deadline for doing so, a CPUC spokesperson told TransmissionHub on May 18.

The commission ordered SCE to stop construction work on the portion of the TRTP that extended through Chino Hills on Nov. 10, 2011 in response to an application for rehearing filed by the city of Chino Hills.

The city of Chino Hills and SCE commenced mediation on Feb. 14 in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to the issues, but the negotiations were short-lived. Mediation was suspended March 9 because “the parties were not able to reach agreement that met the needs of both parties,” according to a joint statement issued by the two parties.

A prehearing conference was held March 19 to discuss the next procedural steps to address the city’s petition. As previously reported by TransmissionHub, during the weeks that followed, representatives of both SCE and the city of Chino Hills held several ex parte meetings with representatives of three members of the CPUC to discuss the ongoing dispute over the alignment of the Chino Hills portion of the project.

SCE has called the Tehachapi project “a critically important, high-voltage transmission line, the timely completion of which is essential for California’s progress toward its aggressive renewable energy goals.”

California has a mandate to obtain 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Once completed, the $2.2bn Tehachapi project will be capable of delivering up to 4,500 MW of wind energy from the Tehachapi area to population centers in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties in California, according to SCE’s website.

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