T&D World Magazine
SMUD General Manager and CEO Arlen Orchard left and Western CEO and Administrator Mark Gabriel prepare to sign an agreement to evaluate developing a new 500kV transmission project in Northern California If constructed the project could strengthen the local transmission grid and improve the energy import capability into the Sacramento area Photo by Caralee Stevens

SMUD General Manager and CEO Arlen Orchard (left) and Western CEO and Administrator Mark Gabriel prepare to sign an agreement to evaluate developing a new 500-kV transmission project in Northern California. If constructed, the project could strengthen the local transmission grid and improve the energy import capability into the Sacramento area. (Photo by Caralee Stevens)

Western, SMUD Partner to Study Sacramento Area Infrastructure Investment

The new agreements will enable Western and SMUD to initiate the environmental review process for the proposed 44-mile, 500-kV transmission line.

Western Area Power Administration and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District have signed partnership agreements to evaluate the feasibility of jointly developing 500-kV transmission facilities in Northern California. 

"With continued growth expected in northern California and the need to interconnect more energy resources, we must proactively invest in infrastructure and seek ways to increase the grid’s capacity,” said Western’s CEO and Administrator Mark Gabriel. “Partnering with SMUD allows us to explore solutions for future energy needs in the Sacramento area.”

The new agreements will enable Western and SMUD to initiate the environmental review process for the proposed 44-mile, 500-kV transmission line. If constructed, the project is expected to strengthen the local transmission grid and improve the energy import capability into the Sacramento area.

“The proposed 500-kV line would enhance reliability by increasing load-serving capability for our customers and potentially to import larger amounts of low carbon and renewable-generated electricity, which is good for the environment locally and regionally,” said Paul Lau, SMUD Chief Grid Strategy and Operations Officer. “The proposed 500-kV line would also provide flexibility for SMUD in terms of electricity delivery, allowing SMUD to procure the power to meet our customers’ energy needs with less reliance on other entities.”

The proposed new line would interconnect the California-Oregon Transmission Project to the Central Valley Project transmission system with two new substations near Maxwell and Marysville, California. The COTP is one of three lines that make up the California-Oregon AC Intertie. This interconnection would improve regional access to clean, renewable, reliable energy resources in the northwest.

“This partnership is a great example of Western and our customers collaborating to accomplish transmission infrastructure upgrades to increase system capacity and flexibility, enabling continued low-cost delivery of renewable and reliable power to the Northern California region,” said Kevin Howard, Western’s vice president of power operations in the Sierra Nevada Region.

SMUD is a Western customer, and the two organizations have a long-standing relationship in developing and operating the transmission system in Northern California. The environmental review process will take about three years and will officially begin when Western publishes a notice of intent in the Federal Register.

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