News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

LADWP Approves Environmental Review of Major Desert Transmission Line

Power towers in the Antelope Valley await transmission lines | Photo: Klaus M13/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has given formal approval to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its proposed Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project, which would stretch across 75 miles of the Mojave Desert and the San Gabriel Mountains to transmit power from utility-scale solar and wind projects in the western Mojave. The Board approved the project's EIR at a meeting Tuesday.

"We are taking a giant step along the path to expanding the amount of renewable energy we provide to customers and meeting our renewable targets," LADWP General Manager Ronald O. Nichols said. "We are working diligently to develop new large-scale solar projects in the High Desert, but it's not enough to only build renewables -- we have to be able to bring that energy home. And that's what this project will allow us to do."

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The project has engendered significant opposition, including concerns from residents in Leona Valley and Green Valley about the risk of wildfire posed by the 230 kilovolt line. During the commenting process, the Center for Biological Diversity expressed concern over the impact of construction on habitat for desert tortoises, golden eagles, California condors and other species of concern. A number of residents of the Tehachapi mountains and the city of Mojave have expressed concern that the transmission line, which will provide DWP with 1.1 gigawatts of additional transmission capacity in the desert, will facilitate a much more aggressive expansion of wind turbine facilities in the area.

According to DWP, the project includes:

  • Expanding the Barren Ridge Switching Station north of Mojave
  • Building a switching station in Haskell Canyon near Santa Clarita
  • Building a new 230 kilovolt transmission between the above two stations, and another from from Haskell Canyon to the Castaic Power Plant

Barring legal challenges now that the EIR is approved, the DWP expects to complete the line by 2016.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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