Calif. wind association adds voice to calls for decision on TRTP

The California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) is supporting the state’s Independent Energy Producers Association (IEPA) in urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to expedite a decision on undergrounding the segment of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) that runs through the city of Chino Hills, Calif., by November (Docket No. A07-06-031).

“It just wasn’t clear to us why it needed to take so long to make the decision regarding undergrounding,” CalWEA’s executive director Nancy Rader told TransmissionHub on Aug. 28.

Rader said numerous renewable energy producers in the Kern County, Calif., area have signed contracts based upon the timely completion of the TRTP.

“We just wanted to encourage the commission to make that decision on a faster track given that it affects people’s contracts, and so it’s very important that we get clarity on when the TRTP will be completed,” Rader said.

The group’s Aug. 20 letter to the five CPUC commissioners said, “An expedited decision is necessary to … mitigate the harm to ratepayers and developers that may result from further delays.”

On July 2, CPUC president Michael Peevey issued an assigned commissioner ruling (ACR) requiring developer Southern California Edison (SCE) to provide testimony based on preliminary engineering studies of two undergrounding options for the line’s Segment 8A. Those studies are due by Feb. 28, 2013.

CalWEA’s letter underscored the position taken by the IPEA earlier in the month.

“Like IEP[A], CalWEA believes that it is feasible for the commission to make a decision as to the preferred option for Segment 8A based on SCE’s preparation of a preliminary technical and cost estimate of the underground option(s),” Rader said.

Both groups believe it should be feasible to make a decision as to the preferred option based on a preliminary engineering cost comparison of the various options on a more timely basis than the engineering studies called for in the ACR. Both organizations said a preliminary evaluation could be completed by November 2012, saving a year over the time required under the ACR.

Echoing the IPEA’s comments, CalWEA told the CPUC, “Such a generic estimate can be developed simultaneously with the detailed technical and cost analysis contemplated under the ACR but will be completed in a much shorter period of time.”

The schedule – as currently set for the presentation of the required technical studies, subsequent hearings, briefings, and a decision – provides only two years to construct and complete the unfinished segments of the Tehachapi project and remain on schedule for planned energizing by 2015, according to the IPEA.

Further, the schedule provides only one year to construct and complete Section 8, composed of the important 500-kV sections, and remain on schedule for planned energizing in 2014.

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