Edison’s Devers 2 Line Becomes a CA Project Only

By Published On: May 22, 2009

Southern California Edison May 15 dropped its pursuit of the 100-mile section of the Devers-Palo Verde transmission line it hoped to build inside Arizona. The utility cited the economic downturn and increased pressure for more renewable resources in California in a letter announcing its change of plans to the Arizona agency responsible for approving the $242 million section of the high voltage project in that state. A recent Edison analysis concluded “that the Arizona portion of the project cannot be currently justified as an economic investment funded by California consumers,” Pedro Pizarro, Edison executive vice president of power operations, stated. The proposed project as originally planned was 270-miles long, with the California portion estimated to cost $723 million. In response, the Arizona Corporation Commission cancelled the May 19 special open meeting it had scheduled to discuss the utility’s permit re-filing. The Arizona commission rejected Edison’s original application to build the line from Blythe in California to 50 miles west of Phoenix in Arizona. It found the project basically would take to California relatively low cost energy and renewable energy that could benefit Arizona. The line was expected to tap into a mix of generation resources, including close to 3,000 MW of alternative power. After the permit was rejected, Edison submitted a second application (Circuit, June 8, 2007). Ultimately, some thought the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission might step in and permit the line under its transmission siting backstop authority. Edison, however, also recently halted its filing at FERC seeking project approval. Informal discussions between the Arizona commission and utility staff were ongoing but whether or not a permit would have been approved “is pure speculation,” said Arizona commission spokesperson Rebecca Wilder. Since the commission rejected Edison’s permit, three of the five commissioners were replaced. Edison said it would no longer pursue the Arizona portion of the line at this time because California’s renewable energy mandate is expected to rise to 33 percent from 20 percent. The California segment of the Devers line is expected to help meet the renewable mandate by carrying some wind, solar, and other non-fossil-powered energy. The expected benefits of the line also faded, according to Pizarro, because of projected decreased fuel prices, “lowering the value of imports.” In addition, the utility’s growth in power demand is lower than previously expected because of economic turmoil, as well as energy efficiency gains. Edison is awaiting approval of the California section of the line from the California Public Utilities Commission. It is expected in two to four weeks, said Paul Klein, Edison spokesperson.

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