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Power line project fizzles out

POSTED July 17, 2009 10:48 p.m.
The Transmission Agency of Northern California officially ended its effort to install 600 miles of high-voltage electricity transmission lines stretching from Lassen County to Turlock on Wednesday.
The three main backers of the $1.5 billion plan, the Turlock Irrigation District, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Modesto Irrigation District, withdrew their support for the project in the last two weeks, leaving the agency with a lack of funding to see the TANC Transmission Project through to reality.
“Without the financial support of key TANC utility members to proceed with this process, TANC cannot undertake a detailed environmental analysis of the proposed alternative routes,” said TANC spokesman Brendan Wonnacott. “As such, the TTP and the proposed alternative routes are no longer being considered.”
The environmental review process will come to an immediate end, following TANC’s decision.
The TTP had been envisioned as a means to connect Northern California utilities to renewable energy resources not currently served by high-voltage lines. TANC considered the project a necessity due to a new California state requirement that all utilities must source 33 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020.
TID had become involved with the project not for access to renewable resources, but instead to improve the reliability of their grid by adding an additional connection point to the statewide grid near Tracy.
Public outcry broke out against the TTP in June, when homeowners from around the state — including many in Oakdale, Del Rio, and Riverbank — found out that the project’s 500 kV power lines, whose power poles can be 150 feet tall and 200 feet wide, might soon mar their properties. TANC extended the scoping period to accept public comment in attempts to placate the angry landowners, but governments up and down the state sided with private citizens and took a stand against the TTP.
TANC will continue to serve as operator of the California Oregon Transmission Project, which it built in 1993, and will work to plan future transmission projects to improve the Northern California power grid.
“Despite today’s decision, TANC still agrees with the assessments of the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission and the California Independent System Operator that additional transmission must be built to meet California’s goals for renewable clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction,” Wonnacott said. “TANC is committed to continue working with transmission owners, utilities, and others to identify solutions for providing reliable and cost-effective transmission service to customers throughout northern California, in accordance with California’s energy goals and policies.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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