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Arizona regulators reject new electric line to California

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PHOENIX -- Arizona utility regulators last week rejected a utility's plan to build a $581 million power transmission line to carry electricity generated at plants in Arizona to customers in California.

"I don't want to be an energy farm for California -- that's my bottom line," Arizona Corporation Commission member Bill Mundell said, questioning whether California has done enough to meet the energy needs of itself and the region.

The commission voted 5-0 against the application by Southern California Edison, a utility that serves most of southern California.

The commission said the project would benefit California utility customers at the expense of their Arizona counterparts while hampering Arizona's ability to meet its own energy needs. Also, the project would harm the environment, particularly the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, the commission said.

"California wants to drop a giant extension cord in Arizona and draw out our power," Commission Kris Mayes said. "Arizona's energy future is at issue in this case."

The proposed 230-mile miles of high-voltage lines -- including approximately 100 miles in Arizona -- would carry electricity from a power junction near several independently owned gas-fired plants near the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix to a power junction near Palm Springs, Calif.

Southern California Edison said in a filing with the Arizona commission that the project is needed to strengthen the interstate transmission system, particularly to relieve congestion between the two states.

An Arizona advisory committee recommended that the commission approve the plan, saying the lines could help Arizona develop capacity to sell energy during off-hours and off-seasons.

The plants that would generate the power hauled by the new lines are not heavily used because of lack of demand in Arizona and inability to transmit to other places.

A California Public Utilities Commission member told the Arizona commissioners last Wednesday's hearing that it's up to them to decide whether the project would help or harm their state.

However, "we do believe this is a sensible project that makes sense in helping the overall reliability of the system," said California PUC member Dian M. Grueneich.

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Related Links:

Arizona Corporation Commission: www.cc.state.az.us/

California Public Utilities Commission: www.cpuc.ca.gov/

Southern California Edison: www.sce.com/

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