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Transmission Lines
E & E News, May 18, 2009

SoCal Edison scraps plans for Ariz.-Calif. line
By Debra Kahn, E & E reporter

Southern California Edison is dropping plans to build a transmission line through Southern California into Arizona, citing a state renewable-energy mandate that encourages the development of in-state power generation.

The utility thus ended its work with the Arizona Corporation Commission, with which it would have shared jurisdiction over the Devers-Palo Verde No. 2 line.

The Arizona commission first denied the utility's application for the line in 2007, saying it would not benefit Arizona ratepayers. The utility was considering refiling the proposal until a recent analysis showed changed electricity rates, market structure and regulations would make it less profitable.

Meanwhile, California's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) -- recently raised to 33 percent by 2020 -- is prompting utilities to seek more in-state, renewable-power generation. SoCal Edison also anticipates reduced load due to energy-efficiency efforts and lower economic growth.

"The development of renewables in California, caused in part by California policymakers' focus on increasing RPS to 33% by 2020, will decrease the need for imports and thus, the economic benefits to California of the Arizona portion of the line," SCE Vice President Pedro Pizarro wrote Friday to Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kristin Mayes.

The Devers-Palo Verde project included a 225-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line between Blythe, Calif., and the Palo Verde generating stations near Phoenix and a 42-mile transmission line between two substations in California.

SoCal Edision still plans to build the California portion of the line, utility spokesman Paul Klein said. CPUC had approved the entire project in 2007; a decision on the 42-mile link is expected within the next month. "We fully intend to build the California portion," he said.

Mayes said she was surprised by SCE's decision. "It does surprise me in the sense that it appears as though Edison thinks that they can meet their RPS with California-based projects, and I guess I have my doubts about that," Mayes said. "They're having an awful time getting things built in California, and I think they'll eventually look to Arizona."

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton