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Power line battle with California utility heats up

PHOENIX – What benefit does Arizona get from stringing another power line between the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and the Palm Springs, Calif. area?

Regulators want to know.

Arizona Corporation Commissioners last year voted down the “Devers-Palo Verde No. 2″ power line, in part because they were concerned Arizonans would give up the water used in power plants and face the pollution from them while Californians would get all the benefits, namely cheaper electricity.

California customers pay about double what Arizonans pay for a kilowatt-hour of electricity, and the line would allow California to tap cheap electricity and raise prices for Arizonans, they said.

Southern California Edison initiated an appeal in May to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to override the Corporation Commission’s rejection.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act gives the commission the authority to approve new transmission lines even if states reject them.

State commissioners argued that federal regulators are going to want to see “good-faith” negotiations with Arizona from Edison before overruling the decision and said Edison should refile its request in Arizona.

Pedro Pizarro, Edison’s executive vice president of power operations, said the Devers line would help several companies that are interested in building solar power plants along its route in Arizona and California.

“It will help foster significant levels of solar generation in Arizona,” he said. “I would answer it is good for (solar power plant) developers around the West.”

Pizarro said that Edison was talking with the Central Arizona Water Conservation District about connecting to the Devers line to provide solar electricity to pump water along the Central Arizona Project canal, which gets its electricity now from the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant.

A representative from Arizona Public Service Co. told commissioners the Devers line could benefit solar projects in Arizona’s western desert.

But during a commission meeting with California utility representatives, Arizona regulators expressed their displeasure with Edison for not making concessions to Arizona for the power line.

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