Financing has come through for a long-awaited upgrade to Path 15. TransElect, the country?s first independent transmission company, recently locked in $76 million in private financing. Previously, it put $10 million into the Path 15 deal. Pacific Gas & Electric, part of the joint venture with TransElect along with the Western Area Power Administration, will spend up to $75 million of shareholder funds(expected to be recouped though rates) to expand the two substations at either end of the line: Los Ba?os on the north side and Gates at the southern end. More than a year and half ago, PG&E?s proposed expenditure was approved by the federal bankruptcy court. The upgrade will boost the carrying capacity of the congested transmission highway from 3,900 MW to 5,400 MW. Construction on the $305 million, 84-mile-long high-voltage line is expected to begin any day. The goal is to have it operational by the end of 2004. The federal government contributed $1.3 million to the project. Much of those funds was used to pay for the requisite environmental documentation that specified a new power line?s potential impacts. WAPA will build and own the new line. TransElect will own 72 percent of the transmission rights, PG&E 18 percent, and WAPA 10 percent. The California Independent System Operator will manage the flow of power on the new section of the grid. An upgrade of the often-jammed Path 15, which runs through the Central Valley, was considered in the 1980s when a group of public utilities built the California-Oregon transmission project. A few years later, in 1991, WAPA sought partners?private and public?for the project via bids. Subsequently, a number of the bidders dropped out.