By Robert Mullin
The Western Area Power Administration and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) have extended the scoping period for a proposed transmission line intended to increase SMUD’s ability to import power from the Pacific Northwest and export from the Sacramento area.
The scoping period for the Colusa-Sutter (CoSu) line will be extended an additional 60 days, from Jan. 6 to March 7, to elicit public comment on environmental issues related to the proposed project, which would create a new 500-kV link between the California-Oregon Transmission Project (COTP) and SMUD and WAPA facilities on the east side of the Sacramento Valley.
Federal power marketing agency WAPA sells power to publicly owned utilities such as SMUD, but its existing transmission facilities do not have enough capacity to meet SMUD’s increasing need for energy, the agency said. The new line would connect the COTP system in Colusa County with the Central Valley Project system in Sutter County, improving access to renewable energy generated in the Northwest.
“A recent California Energy Commission study makes the case for projects like this that enhance transmission capability to import valuable out-of-state renewable resources for California to meet its 50% renewable energy goals by 2030,” WAPA and SMUD said in a statement.
That study pointed out that a shortage of available transfer capacity on the California-Oregon Intertie would inhibit California’s ability to import additional carbon-free energy from the Northwest. (See California Tx Policy Must Foster Resource Diversity, Report Shows.)
WAPA and SMUD said the project will provide additional bidirectional transmission capacity to improve SMUD’s ability to participate in CAISO’s Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).
SMUD last October announced its intent to enter negotiations with the ISO to join the EIM, the West’s only real-time energy market. (See Sacramento Utility to Join EIM; Other BANC Members May Follow.)
The extended scoping period for the line will include review of an additional study area located about 20 miles south of the three other study areas previously scoped over the past couple years. The newly considered corridor would connect to the COTP in Yolo County and terminate near the Elverta Substation in northwestern Sacramento County, crossing directly into SMUD’s service territory.
“The new study area will help us make a more informed choice about how to best meet our future energy needs, while minimizing impacts on the environment and surrounding communities,” said Kim Crawford, SMUD’s California Environmental Quality Act project manager.
Six public meetings about the line are planned for January and February. Comments received during the meetings will be considered in the preparation of the draft environmental impact report. Any other comments must be submitted by March 7.
WAPA said it will take no action on the proposed project until after the environmental review is completed in 2020.