Organizations support CPUC ordering SCE to submit details on undergrounding line

Two California industry organizations have voiced their support of a request that state regulators order Southern California Edison (SCE) to take two specific steps, including to submit a rate recovery proposal, as it evaluates an underground transmission option for the section of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) that crosses Chino Hills, Calif. (Docket No. A07-06-031).

The Independent Energy Producers Association (IEP) and the Large-Scale Solar Association (LSA) filed responses with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Nov. 9, in support of a motion filed by the city of Chino Hills a week earlier asking that the commission order SCE to submit a report identifying what contracts SCE must enter into, what materials it must order, and on what schedule it will need to execute contracts to meet a Dec. 31, 2015 commercial operation date. The city also asked that SCE be ordered to submit a rate recovery proposal.

While it took no position about whether Segment 8a of the TRTP should be above ground or underground, the IEP’s response emphasized the importance of the project remaining on schedule.

“Developers of several generation projects have planned their construction and online dates to correspond with the expansion of transmission capacity resulting from completion of the TRTP, and they have expended significant amounts of capital to ensure that they meet the milestones set forth in their power purchase agreements,” the IEP said. “Any delays in the online date for the TRTP will severely limit the ability of these projects to convey renewable energy to customers in SCE’s load centers and undermine their ability to generate revenues from the sale of renewable power to cover their capital investment.”

LSA, which went on record in August urging the CPUC to render a decision about undergrounding the Chino Hills portion of the project by November, echoed IEP’s concerns about “the impact [a] delay will have on renewable developers and projects that are relying on a 2015 TRTP completion date.”

In its Nov. 2 motion, the city also proposed a modified procedural schedule consisting of two separate tracks. One would result in an interim decision on contracting and rate recovery issues by Feb. 28, while the other would facilitate a final decision on whether to order the line placed underground by July 11, 2013. LSA said it supported that approach.

“While the motion of Chino Hills does not adopt as aggressive a schedule as we recommended previously, the dual-track schedule represents a significant improvement and allows for the possibility that the TRTP can be completed by 2015,” the group said in its response.

“It is imperative for the commission to do all it can to ensure that the project remains on the schedule contemplated when the [certificate of public convenience and necessity] was granted as much as possible,” the IEP added.

Segment 8A of the TRTP is a five-mile stretch of the 500-kV transmission project that extends through the city, including 3.5 miles that go through what the city describes as “densely populated residential neighborhoods.”

The city has contested various alignments proposed for the project since May 2007.

Once completed, the $2.2bn 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.

The project is intended to help the state meet its mandate of obtaining 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

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