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SCE West of Devers Upgrade Project EIR/EIS

Aspen is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The project would result in removal of three sets of 220 kilovolt (kV) towers (615 individual structures), and two sets of 220 kV double-circuit towers would be con­structed to replace them, all within an existing 48-mile corridor. The project is primarily in Riverside County, but it includes a short segment in San Bernardino County. The purpose of the WOD Upgrade project is to increase the transmission capacity for this corridor, which would carry more renewable power from the eastern Riverside County area and the Imperial Valley into southern California load centers.

The eastern starting point of the project is the Devers Substation (in North Palm Springs), through lands of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Cities of Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, Loma Linda, Redlands, and San Bernardino. The corridor includes just over one mile on BLM-administered lands at its eastern end. In addition to the 220 kV system improvements, other project elements include upgrades of smaller subtransmission lines and improvements at local substations, and installation of telecommunication lines and equipment for the protec­tion, monitoring, and control of transmission lines and substation equipment.

SCE previously proposed to upgrade these transmission lines in April of 2005, as part of an SCE application for a new 500 kilovolt (kV) interstate transmission line project in Arizona and California known as the Devers–Palo Verde No. 2 (DPV2) Project. Aspen prepared the EIR/EIS for that project also, analyzing the following three major components:

  • A 500 kV transmission line from Arizona to Blythe, California
  • a 500 kV line from Blythe to Devers Substation north of Palm Springs
  • Upgrades to SCE’s 220 kV transmission system west of Devers Substation.

The CPUC and BLM approved the proposed DPV2 Project in January 2007, except for the West of Devers Upgrades. The upgrades were replaced by an alter­native 500 kV transmission segment between the Devers and Valley Substations. The proposed 220 kV West of Devers components could not be approved by the CPUC and BLM because at the time of agency decisions the Morongo Band of Mission Indians had not reached an agreement with SCE regarding the renewal of the right-of-way (ROW) for the segment of the corridor crossing tribal land.

In May 2008, SCE modified the approved project so it would extend only from a new Colorado River Substation near Blythe to the Devers Substation and then onto the Valley Substation in Romoland. The modified project was approved and it has been constructed. The new trans­mission line was energized in 2013.

SCE and the Morongo Band have now reached an agreement regarding upgrades to transmission facilities in the existing corridor crossing Morongo land.

Aspen’s engineering team played a major role in the development and evaluation of alternatives to the proposed project. The Draft EIR/EIS evaluated 11 alternatives, and presented 3 with detailed analysis. The three alternatives retained are within the same transmission corridor, but would reconfigure the transmission structures or retain some existing structures to reduce environmental impacts.

Practice areas: Energy

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