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The board of directors for the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) in El Centro, Calif., has approved the construction of an eight-mile portion of a planned 35-mile transmission project near the Salton Sea between the existing IID Energy Midway substation and the proposed Bannister substation.

In addition, the board approved funding for the next three phases of the project to finalize environmental and acquisition rights-of-way for the remaining 27 miles of transmission.

The new line, which IID Energy says is part of its overall Green Path Transmission Expansion plan, would increase the reliability of IID Energy's transmission infrastructure while spurring the growth of the Imperial Valley's renewable energy industry. Wheeling revenues generated from the project are expected to repay construction costs within the first several years of operation.

"With a 40,000 MW renewable energy potential in the Imperial Valley, IID has more than 22 generator interconnection requests currently on the books waiting to be processed," says Juan Carlos Sandoval, assistant manager for IID Energy. "Many of these are expected to come online within the next five years. Creating the needed transmission capacity for these generators can make or break their ability to operate in our area."

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