Thursday, July 02, 2009

Update: SMUD was concerned about location, regulation

I've got a call into the Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District over its decision to pull out of the Northern California transmission line project. Haven't heard back yet, but they told my former paper that they were concerned about "economic and environmental studies of renewable energy transmission."

SMUD decided to withdraw after spending $2 million of the $18 million it had budgeted for feasibility studies of the TANC line, said Elisabeth Brinton, director of communications and community relations for the utility.

Economic and environmental studies of renewable energy transmission raised concern for SMUD, Brinton said.

TANC planners have said the lines would allow members to tap wind and geothermal power that may one day be developed in Lassen County and western Nevada to meet state renewable energy requirements.

But Northern California renewables will deliver less energy at greater environmental cost than solar and wind farms in the Mojave Desert, according to a Renewable Energy Transmission Institute report released earlier this year.

SMUD is also concerned that a rapidly changing legislative and regulatory environment creates too much uncertainty for investment in an expensive, long-term asset like a transmission line, Brinton said.

"It really comes down to what's best for our customer owners," said Brinton.

I wrote about the RETI study at length for Capital Press a few weeks back. You can see the story here.

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