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IID Dedicates Phase I of Midway-Bannister Transmission Project
Project will enable the transport of geothermal energy
Imperial Irrigation District held a dedication ceremony on March 15 to celebrate the completion of the Midway-Bannister Transmission Project Phase1. Leaders from the community were on hand to recognize the completion of the project, the first of many transmission projects to be built in Imperial Valley to address emerging renewable energy needs.
Also known as the Salton Sea Transmission Line, the project is in the first of four phases that will enable the export of renewable energy from the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area, an area that contains a high level of geothermal activity and resources.
Built to serve the future needs of planned renewable energy generation facilities in the geothermal resource area, the project will enable the delivery of geothermal energy to interconnection points with neighboring electrical grids across California and utilities in Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
“The Midway-Bannister Transmission Project will serve the geothermal energy industry in transmitting energy reliably for years to come. Itwill also serve as a win-win model that illustrates how IID and the privatesector can work together to develop the needed infrastructure to address the renewable energy industry’s needs,” said Stella Mendoza, president of the IID Board of Directors.
Key to An Overall Transmission Strategy
The Midway-Bannister Transmission Project is part of an overall transmission expansion plan to transport renewable energy and make IID’s system more robust. The ultimate plan includes building a new transmission corridor from the Midway Substation along the southern end of the Salton Sea and then south to the Imperial Valley 500-kV interconnection with San Diego Gas and Electric. IID’s existing 230-kV transmission line, which crosses the northern part of the Coachella Valley and interconnects with the California Independent System Operation at Devers Substation, will also be upgraded to accommodate an increase in power flow.
The 12.2-mile transmission line is constructed north of the city of Calipatria and consists of 8.5 miles of 230-kV transmission line between IID’s existing Midway and the proposed Bannister substations and a 3.7 mile generator tie to the Hudson Ranch I project. The project also includes the upgrade and expansion of the existing Midway Substation.
IID is making the best use of the transmission path by providing for two circuits on one structure. The project encompasses the installation of 101 120-foot-tall steel transmission structures to support these circuits that operate at 230,000 volts. With the ability to transport 600 megawatts of power, the transmission line will have the capacity to serve numerous power generating facilities.
Partners in Progress
The cost of the $14 million project, which will be completed underbudget and six months ahead of schedule, will be shared by IID and EnergySource, developer of the Hudson Ranch I project. The renewable energy producer will pay $4.6 million toward the cost of the addition to the Midway Substation and the generator tie to the 49.9 megawatt geothermal project that is now under construction. IID has assumed the expense of the transmission line and the upgrade of the substation facilities as a way to jump-start further development in this area.
“This project is a great example of what can be accomplished when IID and a power development company work together to realize a goal that carries significant long-term benefit for both sides. And the result is serious economic development for the Imperial Valley,” said EnergySource’s president and CEO David Watson.
Boosting the Economy
Economic benefits for the development of the renewable energy industry in the region are substantial. According to the Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Feasibility Study commissioned in 2008 by IID, 1,000 - 7,000 long-term operations and maintenance jobs could potentially be created by the renewable energy industry. A 50-MW geothermal plant, such as the Hudson Ranch Iproject, is likely to generate approximately 200 construction and 85 operating and maintenance jobs, alone.
With an unemployment rate currently hovering at 25 percent, the Imperial Valley could use the jobs. The county has been plagued with a long-term unemployment rate well above 20 percent for decades.
Harvesting Green Energy
As reported in the study, there remains much renewable energy to be harvested in the Imperial Valley. The report declared approximately 42,000 megawatts of renewable energy from geothermal, solar, wind and biomass resources. A considerable portion -- about 2,500 megawatts-- can be realized through the development of geothermal energy within its nine knowngeothermal resource areas.
IID, serving Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties, requires only 1,200-1,300 MW of total resources to serve its own peak load; of that, roughly 400 MW of renewable energy resources are needed to reach its 33 percent goal by 2020 to meet California’s renewable energy mandate.
“Ironically, the Midway project is just the beginning of our work to create a new industry that will change our future,” concluded Mendoza. “I look forward to working with the private sector on future projects that will not only help deliver green energy to outside markets, but will deliver thefuture of the place so many of us call home.”