Construction officially began last month on the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which will enable the development of as much as 4500 MW of wind capacity in the Tehachapi Pass wind resource area and connect it with the major load centres of southern California. Thousands of wind turbines already turn in the pass -- most from the American wind industry's wind boom nearly two decades ago -- but substantial new project construction has been stymied because of limited transmission capacity. Major utility Southern California Edison (SCE) is leading the construction effort. The $1.8 billion project is made possible partly through the efforts of the California wind industry's push for a new model of transmission financing that now allows construction costs to be paid up front by rate-payers and later recouped through electricity wheeling charges, energy savings and other mechanisms. The first three segments of the project, which SCE calls "the largest wind transmission project in the US," includes two new substations; "Windhub" and "Highwind," located near Mojave and Monolith; a 41 kilometre, 500 kV transmission line connecting SCE's existing Antelope substation with the new Windhub substation; a 15.5 kilometre, 220 kV transmission line connecting Windhub and Highwind; a 34 kilometre, 500 kV transmission line connecting SCE's existing Antelope and Vincent substations; and a 43 kilometre, 500 kV transmission line connecting SCE's existing Antelope and Pardee substations. The new lines are expected to be operational in early 2009. Other phases of the project are in the regulatory and approval stage.