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The California Independent System Operator Corp.'s (California ISO) board of governors has approved the Highwind Project transmission upgrade that reach renewable generation facilities planned for a remote area of California.

The Highwind Project includes about 10 miles of transmission lines and a new substation in the Tehachapi area. It is the first project considered under new rules that allow the California ISO to designate a renewable energy resource area and allows Highwind to move forward under the Location Constrained Resource Interconnection (LCRI) process approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late 2007.

The LCRI process provides a way for the California ISO to approve a project based on its ability to access remotely located wind, solar, geothermal or other renewable areas. It also sets up a cost recovery and project approval mechanism.

"The ISO proposed and FERC approved a new mechanism that paves the way for easier financing and development of needed renewable power projects. Smaller developers no longer bare the brunt of the up-front costs of investing in the transmission lines," says California ISO Board Chair Mason Willrich. "This is a big step in meeting California's renewable energy goals."

The Highwind Project, at an estimated cost of $46.1 million, would not ordinarily need board approval, as it is under the $50 million threshold. The interim approval process under the LCRI though requires board designation as a renewable area.

SOURCE: California Independent System Operator Corp.

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