Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Transmission Project Could Be History

You know that proposed 600 mile transmission line project that is supposed to deliver green energy from the Shasta County in the northeastern part of the state down to the bay area (Santa Clara, to be exact)? As Tony Soprano would say, "Fuggedaboudit."

SMUD, which was the biggest investor, with a 35% stake in the project, just pulled out. Citing a litany of reasons for pulling the plug, from regulatory and economic uncertanities to renewed skepticism about the overall wisdom of the project, the agency's departure from the project makes completion really, really unlikely.

The Contra Costa Times reports:

"The public works project in question — one of the West's largest in recent history — would extend from yet-to-be-developed wind and solar farms in the northeastern part of the state. It would wind through parts of the Central Valley and Bay Area, including protected agricultural and viticultural tracts in the Livermore Valley, to furnish power-thirsty urban areas with energy.

The project's sponsor, the Transmission Agency of Northern California, is a group of 15 or so municipal power providers that banded in the 1980s to develop green power. Only five of those members — the Sacramento Municipal Utility, Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, and the cities of Redding and Santa Clara — had agreed to fund the initial environmental work and, if it is ultimately approved, to finance the project.

SMUD, the largest stakeholder by far, had been expected to shoulder 35 percent of the project's costs. The utility's withdrawal leaves a gaping hole in the project budget and raises questions about its future."