High Desert Power Authority’s joint transmission line project focuses on expanding connectivity for regional renewable energy projects

The City of Lancaster and the City of Pittsburg, California, along with support from Kern County, have partnered to form the High Desert Power Authority (HDPA), a Joint Powers Authority, for the purpose of creating independent transmission projects.

HDPA’s initial project is the Antelope Valley Clearview Transmission Project which will connect North Los Angeles County and East Kern projects into the statewide grid.

The AV Clearview Transmission Line is a high voltage underground transmission cable that will stretch nearly 40 miles across the Antelope Valley from Edwards Air Force Base to the Vincent-Lugo transmission line south of Highway 138.  The line will include an above ground connection by way of Windhub and Kramer substation.

The Project will open extensive areas for future alternative energy development in Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino counties, while being capable of delivering more than 2,000 megawatts of renewable generation from the Antelope Valley and eastern Ken County.

“The AV Clearview Project offers a myriad of benefits for southern California,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “From a local standpoint, this project promises multiple opportunities to jumpstart economic development throughout our region, providing hundreds of jobs via the transmission project as well as nearby solar projects which are currently awaiting connectivity. More importantly, the project provides the necessary infrastructure to harness our region’s valuable solar and wind resources, while providing additional transmission for already-developed alternative energy projects.”

The environmental review and permitting process for the project is expected to take approximately 15 months, with construction due to start in 2014. Completion of the project is slated for mid-2016, meeting the deadline mandated for wind and solar projects utilizing funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the project’s expected to go on-line by January 1, 2017. This accelerated schedule is essential to solar and wind projects in the western Mojave Desert which are depending on a new transmission line to secure financing for their projects.

“This project will bring new construction jobs to the region earlier than other transmission projects, while serving as a key tool to help federally-funded wind and solar energy projects come on-line by 2017,” said Kern County’s State Senator Michael J. Rubio (D-Shafter).  “It is essential that the California Independent System Operator (CAL ISO) support this project, so that the state can achieve its 33% Renewables Portfolio Standard policy goals.”

The AV Clearview project is a dynamic private-public partnership between the HDPA and Critical Path Transmission, designers of the power line. Once completed, the project will enable the region to meet the State requirement that 33% of power come from a renewable energy source by 2020. In addition, the project will take advantage of the federal funding available through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling in 2011 (FERC Order 1000), which opened up the transmission market to independent transmission projects.

Chairman of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, Zach Scrivner, notes that the project is “an important means to enable continued growth in the County’s development of wind and solar projects in the region.”

The AV Clearview Project has been in development for more than three years and is the critical link between southern Kern County renewable energy projects and the greater Los Angeles power grid.  Existing wind energy projects in southern Kern coupled with the outstanding capacity for solar development in Lancaster, necessitates the construction of a transmission line capable of supporting transmission of renewable energy out of this region.

Solar developers, wind energy companies, and other green energy projects stand waiting for the crucial connectivity that the AV Clearview Project will bring.  The HDPA involved Edwards Air Force Base early in the design process choosing to route the line underground along road right-of-ways, through previously disturbed land, and above ground where deemed practical.

The City of Pittsburg, through its municipal utility, the Pittsburg Power Company, brings a wealth of development and operational experience, most notably from its development of the Trans Bay Cable Project, a $500 million, 53-mile underwater transmission project which provides power to nearly half of the city of San Francisco.

Ben Johnson, Mayor of Pittsburg, called the AV Clearview Project “well-conceived and very timely,” noting that “the Project can be permitted and constructed years sooner than proposed transmission projects, and with much less environmental impact.”

“The AV Clearview Project is necessary for connecting the naturally abundant alternative energy resources throughout the Antelope Valley and Kern County to the power grid that feeds into the Los Angeles area. This transmission line will supply the connectivity essential for both existing and future alternative energy projects while creating hundreds of green jobs,” concluded Mayor R. Rex Parris.