Large-scale solar association adds to calls for quick decision on TRTP

California’s Large-scale Solar Association (LSA) has joined the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) and the state’s Independent Energy Producers Association (IEPA) in urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to make a decision this fall about undergrounding Segment 8a of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP), the portion that runs through the city of Chino Hills, Calif., by November (Docket No. A07-06-031).

LSA has a “strong interest in ensuring that transmission needed to deliver renewable energy from resource rich regions – like the Tehachapi Project – is developed expeditiously,” LSA executive director Shannon Eddy wrote in an Aug. 31 letter to all five CPUC commissioners.

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.

“Making the determination about the feasibility of undergrounding this fall would ensure that the Tehachapi Project proceeds in a timely manner, by potentially resolving the undergrounding issue more than a year in advance of the schedule” set out in the ACR, Eddy continued.

Echoing comments by the other two organizations, she said, “The risk of delay weighs heavily on renewable developers, who would be adversely impacted if they relied on the schedule for the Tehachapi Project included in the commission’s original decision in their commercial negotiations and decisions on contractual terms.”

All three 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. The organizations said a preliminary evaluation could be completed by November 2012, saving a year over the time required under the ACR.

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.

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.

A delay, Eddy warned, “[C]ould, in turn, place the renewable projects needed to meet California’s renewables portfolio standard goals at risk.”

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