Arizona regulators refused to allow a California utility to build a proposed cross-desert power line last year. Now, they want federal energy officials to drop any consideration of overriding their decision.
The Arizona Corporation Commission said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shouldn't act on Southern California Edison's contacts that began in February and could lead to the federal agency permitting Edison to formally apply for FERC permission to build the line.
If Edison makes a formal request, it would be the first such application filed with FERC under a 2005 federal energy law that authorized designations of critical energy corridors.
Rosemead, Calif.-based Edison wants to build a 200-mile, 500-kilovolt line to link a switching yard serving generating plants near Phoenix with a substation near Palm Springs, Calif.
The Edison International subsidiary says the line is needed to reduce congestion in the Arizona-California-Nevada energy corridor while allowing utilities to improve access to power supplies, including renewable sources.
Explaining the Arizona commission's June 2007 rejection of SCE's application, a letter signed by Chairman Mike Gleason and sent Thursday said the state regulatory body has a record of approving numerous generating and transmission projects.
However, the Arizona commission was justified in rejecting the application after weighing environmental concerns and economic benefits associated with the proposal.
The power line has cost implications for customers in both states.
Making it easier for power generated in Arizona to reach California could boost supplies and hold down prices in that state. Conversely, keeping more power in Arizona could help ratepayers in that state.
The Arizona commission's letter said benefits for the regional grid are questionable and that Edison has "other resource options at its disposal," including construction of new generating plants and use of renewable resources.
Acting under the federal 2005 law, the U.S. Department of Energy designated large swaths of southwestern Arizona and southern California as one of two "national interest electric transmission corridors." The second corridor is located in the mid-Atlantic region.
FERC officials did not immediately respond to inquiries Friday, but Edison spokesman Paul Klein said the pre-application contacts were continuing.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the line proposal in January 2007.