Electricity Markets

WAPA, other parties move forward with transmission project

The Western Area Power Administration and several other public and private organizations on Jan. 31 said that they would move forward with the construction of a new 85-mile, 230,000-volt electric transmission line from WAPA’s substation in Tracy, Calif., to the San Luis, O’Neill and Dos Amigos substations in the Los Banos area of the state.

The San Luis Transmission Project is being developed jointly by WAPA, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, the Bureau of Reclamation and Duke-American Transmission Co. and is intended to enhance electric service to the San Joaquin Valley.

The project will provide electricity for the delivery of federal water supplies to Central Valley and Bay Area residents, businesses and farms. The route will parallel existing transmission facilities through non-irrigated ranch land.

WAPA is the lead federal agency for the project, developing it for the Bureau of Reclamation and its San Luis Unit of the federal Central Valley Project. WAPA is legally required to provide electric transmission service to Reclamation and its customers.

The principal purpose of the San Luis Unit is irrigation water supply for almost one million acres of prime farmland in central California. The San Luis Unit is located in California's San Joaquin Valley.

WAPA’s previous transmission contract with investor-owned Pacific Gas and Electric for the delivery of San Luis Unit power at the Central Valley Project expired in 2016, and Reclamation asked WAPA to develop a new transmission service arrangement to replace the expiring contract.

Duke-American Transmission Co. is a private transmission developer working with the public stakeholders on the project.

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority consists of water agencies representing approximately 2.1 million acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors within the western San Joaquin Valley, San Benito and Santa Clara counties.

The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the U.S. and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power.

“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 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,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority board of directors. “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.”

Of the line’s 600 megawatts of electric capacity, 400 MW 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. Duke-American Transmission Co. will soon begin marketing the additional capacity.

A map of the project is available here.

WAPA signs agreement for possible transmission project participation

WAPA and the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project recently executed a letter agreement that sets forth terms and options for future potential participation by WAPA in the SunZia project.

The letter agreement outlines the expected roles, responsibilities, and options for SunZia and WAPA as the parties continue to explore potential financing opportunities and whether and to what extent WAPA might participate in SunZia.