Cal-ISO evaluates competitive bids for two 230-kV lines

Two 230-kV transmission lines open to competitive solicitation in California attracted nine bids.

The California ISO in its 2012-2013 transmission plan, which was approved in March, identified and opened up to competition the 11-mile Sycamore-Penasquitos line, estimated to cost between $111m and $211m, and the 59-mile Gates-Gregg line, estimated to cost between $115m and $145m.

The two-month competitive solicitation process for the projects closed June 3.

Though the lines are reliability projects, they also meet public policy and/or economic needs. Under the ISO’s tariff, projects that generate public policy or economic benefits are open to competition.

Abengoa T&D, Elecnor, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and TransBay Cable submitted proposals for Sycamore-Penasquitos, and Elecnor, Isolux Infrastructure, Pacific Gas & Electric and MidAmerican Transmission, Pattern Energy Group and Pittsburg, and TransBay Cable submitted proposals for Gates-Gregg.

Sycamore-Penasquitos, a reliability project, is a possible alternative to policy-driven transmission projects that would otherwise be needed to meet California’s renewable portfolio standard, the ISO said. The project has a targeted in-service date of 2017.

“The dynamic reactive support could provide near-term benefits for addressing the current [San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)] outage if current efforts to convert Huntington Beach units 3 & 4 to synchronous condensers are not successful and would provide longer-term benefits (with or without the Huntington Beach synchronous condensers) for mitigating any future long-term outage of SONGS,” the ISO said in the plan.

The Sycamore – Penasquitos line was originally part of the Sunrise Power Link Project, which Cal-ISO approved in 2006. However, the 11-mile segment was subsequently removed from the project. 

Gates-Gregg is a reliability project but is eligible for competitive solicitation because of its additional policy and economic benefits, the ISO said. The ISO said the line would be needed in the 2022 time frame but said that an earlier in-service date can be rationalized because of the benefits it provides and can be explored in more detail in the competitive solicitation process.

Sycamore-Penasquitos runs between substations owned by SDG&E, and Gates-Gregg runs between substations owned by PG&E.

2012-2013 transmission plan

Cal-ISO identified 41 projects, totaling about $1.75bn, in its 2012-2013 transmission plan.

Of these, five are new transmission projects, including the Sycamore-Penasquitos line:

  • Rerouting Southern California Edison’s $36m, 500-kV Eldorado-Lugo line, scheduled for completion in 2020
  • Equipment upgrades on the Eldorado-Lugo line, scheduled for 2016 and estimated to cost $121m;
  • Upgrading the 230-kV line between PG&E substations Warnerville and Bellota, scheduled for completion in 2017 and estimated to cost $28m
  • Upgrading the 115-kV line between PG&E’s Wilson and Le Grand substations in Merced County, scheduled for completion in 2020 and estimated to cost $15m.

The remaining 36 projects total $1.35bn and are needed to maintain reliability. Of these, eight projects total $907m; the remaining 28 projects cost less than $50m each and total $436m.

PG&E is responsible for 31 of the 36 projects, worth an investment total of $1.2bn. SDG&E is responsible for the remaining five, estimated to cost $175m.

“The majority of identified reliability concerns are related to facility overloads or low voltage,” Cal-ISO said in the plan. “Therefore, many of the specific projects … include line reconductoring and facility upgrades for relieving overloading concerns, as well as installing voltage support devices for mitigating voltage concerns.” 

The eight largest projects include the Atlantic-Placer 115-kV line; Gates #2 500/230-lV transformer addition; the Gates-Gregg 230-kV line; the Midway-Andrew 230-kV line; the Northern Fresno 115-kV reinforcement; the Lockeford-Lodi Area 230-kV development; the addition of reactive support at the Talega 230-kV substation; and the addition of dynamic reactive power source in the vicinity of the SONGS switchyard, called the Orange County Dynamic Reactive Support project. 

PG&E identified the San Francisco peninsula as particularly vulnerable to lengthy outages in the event of extreme contingencies (NERC Category D). The ISO said further studies have been initiated to determine reinforcement needed for this area.

No new major transmission projects are required to be approved by the ISO to help the state meet its 33% renewable portfolio standard.

Five transmission projects will support renewable energy goals, including the Tehachapi, Colorado River-Valley 500-kV and Eldorado-Ivanpah 230-kV lines, all estimated to enter service in 2013; the Sunrise Powerlink, which entered service in June 2012; and the Carrizo Midway reconductoring, scheduled to enter service in 2013.

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.