Another California transmission initiative to unlock renewable assets

The Imperial Irrigation District (IID), California's sixth largest consumer-owned utility, has adopted two policy initiatives aimed at unlocking undeveloped renewable energy assets in its jurisdiction in southern California. Geothermal may ultimately prove the greatest green energy export from the effort, but wind power is expected to follow, says the IID's Kevin Kelley. The first component of the plan would be to significantly increase the district's current export capability over the next decade, a transmission program that includes the construction of new 230 kV lines and system upgrades at key interconnection facilities. Over the same time period, IID will build a dedicated 230 kV line from its Midway substation through the Salton Sea area -- where undeveloped geothermal resources are thought to be greatest -- to points accessing major population centres in southern California. Kelley says that of a total 20 projects in the state's electricity interconnection queue, a handful are large wind projects from reputable companies. IID serves the Imperial Valley, which borders Riverside County, home to the big San Gorgonio wind resource area. IID's board also amended its open access transmission tariff to incorporate provisions dealing with interconnection agreements. Kelley says the decision follows similar efforts by investor-owned utility Southern California Edison, which is working to build transmission lines to access wind potential in the Tehachapi wind resource area. California's green energy mandate is driving the IID's effort. "In California, these investor owned utilities are already operating under a provision they will have twenty percent of their power come from renewables. This is just our board's recognition of that and planning accordingly to take full advantage of the resources located here," says Kelley.