Work begins on California wind transmission lines
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Construction on the biggest U.S. transmission project largely for wind energy has begun, utility Southern California Edison said on Friday.
The Tehachapi Renewal Transmission Project aims to take wind power produced in a remote area called Tehachapi in Southern California to power customers all over the state through the state power grid.
If the full project is finished by 2013 as planned, it will be capable of carrying 4,500 megawatts of electricity, much of it from turbines in the windy Tehachapi area of northern Los Angeles County and eastern Kern County.
That is enough power to serve about 3 million California homes, said Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International.
"Construction of the Tehachapi project will create the single largest power block of wind energy in the United States," said Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.
The American Wind Energy Association says that wind power will by 2030 make about 20 percent of the power used in the United States, if transmission lines can be built to turbines that are usually in remote areas like Tehachapi. By the end of 2007, wind power for the first time accounted for more than 1 percent of overall U.S. electricity production, the AWEA said.
Installed U.S. wind power by the end of 2007 was almost 17,000 megawatts, the AWEA said. Texas leads the United States with about 4,500 MW and California is second with about 2,500
The first phase of the project is to be completed in 2009. In all, there are 11 phases of the Tehachapi project and its cost, So Cal Ed said, is about $1.8 billion.
The latter phases of the Tehachapi project are in the pipeline for regulatory approval.
The line's development is planned to coincide with the development of independently owned wind farms. When all phases are developed, the Tehachapi project will include a series of new and upgraded 500-kilovolt and 230-KV transmission lines and a handful of new substations.
The Tehachapi project is part of a wider, $5 billion transmission expansion proposed by So Cal Ed.
So Cal Ed is the largest unit of parent Edison International, which is based in Rosemead in suburban Los Angeles. It has 4.8 million customers in southern, central and coastal California.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gary Hill)