The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved most of Southern California Edison's special rate request for a proposed transmission line to the Tehachapi wind area. Wind advocates say it won't be enough to ensure that the line is built. Edison said, however, that it will continue to pursue the project. The ruling will allow Edison to spread the cost of building two of the three proposed lines into the Tehachapi wind area among all users of the California Independent System Operator's grid. However, FERC did not create, as Edison requested, a new category of transmission line—known as a "trunk" line—and in failing to do so denied the related special rate treatment request for the third part of Edison's proposed Antelope line. "No, it's not good enough," said Nancy Rader, California Wind Energy Association executive director. Barring state action to ensure that Edison gets paid back for its investment, Rader said, FERC's decision ultimately will prevent the development of Tehachapi. Edison, however, will continue to pursue the complete transmission project and plans to file an amended application with the California Public Utilities Commission outlining updated route and environmental information later this year, said Paul Klein, utility spokesperson. Federal regulators also deferred a decision on Edison's related request for an "advanced prudence determination" for investing in new transmission lines. However, they said the utility could come back with the request after receiving state certification. If investments are prudent but the lines are abandoned, Edison may recover any investment. In its ruling posted July 5, FERC outlined "important differences" between the first two segments of the proposed project and the third leg. Basically, the third leg would be somewhat speculative—built in order to serve wind farms that may or may not appear. Wind producers see this as a chicken-and-egg problem. They can't get backing to build if there's no transmission line for taking the energy to Edison's customers. Edison doesn't want to build the line if it can't be promised full repayment. "Edison has designed the Segment 3 facilities to serve the multiple interconnection customers that may develop generation projects," according to the ruling. FERC also said that the third segment would not operate in parallel with the other two. Because of these differences, the commission found that having all grid customers pay for the third part would be "improper." However, for the rest, "All users of the ISO-controlled grid would contribute toward cost recovery of the Antelope Project," stated the federal regulators. Edison had asked the federal commission in March for the precedent-setting rules. Full regulatory approval would have eased and possibly ended the bitter stalemate between wind developers and the utility. Developers say they cannot afford to build transmission lines to hook up to their facilities. Edison made its request to federal regulators after the CPUC in June 2004 ordered it to pay for the transmission project, a decision overturned in a case the utility pressed in the California Second District Court of Appeal. The company successfully argued that the federal law preempts the CPUC from issuing such an order. "Edison—s petition reflects a tension between federal and state policy," said federal regulators. "The CPUC has directed Edison to construct these facilities . . . and Edison is looking for guaranteed recovery of the prudent cost associated with the Antelope Project from this commission." Edison conceived the project in three parts: a 25.6-mile 500 kV line from Antelope to Pardee (near Santa Clarita); a 17.8-mile 500 kV line from Antelope to Vincent (near Palmdale); and a 26-mile 500 kV line from Antelope to Tehachapi with a new substation in the Mojave area. Six months ago, the utility conceded that the first two would probably clearly be network upgrades (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Dec. 10. 2004).