A group of public and private organizations have announced plans to move forward on a project to enhance electric service to the San Joaquin Valley. The San Luis Transmission Project is being developed jointly by Western Area Power Administration, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Bureau of Reclamation and Duke-American Transmission Co.
The project involves construction of a new 85-mile, 230,000-V electric transmission line from WAPA’s substation in Tracy to the San Luis, O’Neill and Dos Amigos substations in the Los Banos area. The route will parallel existing transmission facilities through non-irrigated ranch land.
The project will provide electricity for the economical and reliable delivery of federal water supplies to Central Valley and Bay Area residents, businesses and farms.
"The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Its farms, ranches and associated processing facilities generate tens of thousands of jobs and require affordable and dependable sources of electrical power," said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority board of directors. "The project will help meet those needs for decades to come and will help the Valley’s agricultural industry remain productive and competitive."
WAPA is the lead federal agency for the project, developing it for the Bureau of Reclamation and its San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project. WAPA is legally required to provide electric transmission service to Reclamation and its customers. WAPA’s previous transmission contract with Pacific Gas and Electric for the delivery of San Luis Unit power at the federal Central Valley Project expired in 2016, and Reclamation requested that WAPA develop a new transmission service arrangement to replace the expiring contract.
"This transmission line is a last major piece of the San Luis Project as envisioned and authorized by Congress," said Bureau of Reclamation Power Operations Division Chief Barry Mortimeyer. "It will provide stable and durable power costs for the delivery of Central Valley Project water to our agriculture communities, municipal/industrial customers and refuges."
Duke-American Transmission Co. is a private transmission developer working with the public stakeholders on the project. "Public-private partnerships can provide advantages in critical, regionally significant infrastructure projects, such as the San Luis Transmission Project," said DATC President Randy Satterfield. "In this partnership, DATC’s transmission expertise will benefit public stakeholders as they secure a predictable, reliable transmission connection to support the water and power needs of the Central Valley."
"This public-private partnership maximizes the benefits of building critical energy infrastructure while simultaneously meeting the electricity needs of extremely important agricultural and water customers responsible for the majority of U.S. produce production," said WAPA Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel.
Besides providing long-term cost certainty for water customers, the project also will help enhance transmission system reliability and support renewable energy development in the Valley.
"The project is designed to fill a gap in the power supply grid for California and will enhance the state’s ability to transfer needed power from areas where it is generated to areas where it is needed. It will also create opportunities to help California meet its renewable energy mandates by providing access to the grid for solar energy generated within the Valley," said Michael.
Of the line’s 600 MW of electric capacity, 400 will be used by water customers, and approximately 200 MW of additional capacity will be available to area utilities and renewable energy developers. The San Luis Transmission Project is fully permitted and in the construction design phase; DATC will soon begin marketing the additional capacity.
A project map and up-to-date information are available at www.SanLuisTransmission.com.