EEI seeks to join Tehachapi case before Calif. state regulators

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) has asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to participate as a party in the proceeding that will decide whether to place underground a portion of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project in southern California (Docket No. A07-06-031).

“EEI would participate by filing an amicus brief in support” of project developer Southern California Edison (SCE), EEI said in its motion. “We would focus on implications from a utility-industry perspective of the Chino Hills [Calif.], proposal and associated CPUC proceeding. Our goal would be to provide an industry perspective for the benefit of the administrative law judge and the commission.”

While the organization said its amicus brief would “focus on … addressing the city of Chino Hills’ proposal to underground a 3.5 mile section of the TRTP through the city” and would be “in support of SCE,” its motion did not indicate whether EEI would actively support an overhead alignment, for which SCE has indicated a preference, or simply provide an additional industry perspective. Calls seeking clarification from EEI were not returned by press time April 30.

EEI’s motion did indicate the organization’s intent to focus on the project’s economic implications.

“In our brief, EEI would address the importance of certainty and closure in the facility-approval process so utilities can finance, site, and construct renewable energy, other generation, and delivery resources to meet electricity demand reliably and cost effectively,” EEI said. “These issues relate directly to the current Chino Hills portion of this proceeding.”

EEI submitted its motion seeking party status on April 29, the first business day after the conclusion of evidentiary hearings on the project before the CPUC. Other groups and organizations, including the Large-Scale Solar Association, Independent Energy Producers, and the California Division of Ratepayer Advocates, have also sought and been granted party status.

With the evidentiary hearings concluded, parties must now prepare opening briefs that must be filed with the CPUC by May 6. Reply briefs are due May 13. A proposed decision is scheduled to be filed by June 11 and considered publicly at the commission’s July 11 meeting. By commission rules, a proposed decision must be issued at least 30 days in advance of the meeting at which it will be considered.

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’s renewable portfolio standard calls for 33% renewable energy by 2020.

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