Update: Ruling to underground Tehachapi line uncontested

The deadline to appeal the decision to place Segment 8A of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) underground through the city of Chino Hills, Calif., passed 30 days after the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) July 11 action without a single party filing a petition for rehearing.

Any party granted party status in the case had until Aug. 9 to seek a rehearing of the decision, a CPUC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Aug. 5, but that deadline passed without activity (Docket No. A07-06-031).

In its first response to the decision, project developer Southern California Edison (SCE) indicated that it might not appeal the decision when it said it was “proceeding with engineering and procurement activities to meet the aggressive schedule.”

The chairman and CEO of SCE’s parent company, Edison International (NYSE:EIX), sent another signal that it might put the matter behind it during the company’s 2Q13 earnings call on Aug 1.

“We remain concerned about the potential precedent for future transmission lines’ costs but we respect the commission’s decision and will move forward to implement it expeditiously,” Ted Craver, said.

During that earnings call, the company indicated it disagreed with the CPUC’s assessment and approval of $224m to underground the line as specified in the commission’s July 11 decision. Craver said the company expects to file a general rate case application during 4Q13 that will include a request for an incremental $360m, which SCE estimates will be the additional cost of undergrounding a single-circuit configuration of the 3.5-mile stretch of Segment 8A of the TRTP as it passes through the city of Chino Hills.

In addition to the higher cost, SCE has said previously that an underground option could jeopardize the project’s planned in-service date of late 2015.

When completed, the 250-mile, $2.5bn, 500-kV project will be capable of moving up to 4,500 MW of renewable energy from wind and solar installations in the state’s renewable-rich Tehachapi area to the load pockets of the Los Angeles basin. SCE has called the $2.5bn 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 mandates obtaining 33% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.