Yes, more good news.  Yesterday, the TANC Board met, and were heard on the public conference call to vote, one by one, to put an end to this project that no one wants:

Special Op-ed: TANC’s Implosion: Lessons of Failure

July 16, 2009

By Nora Shimoda

Fizzle, crackling and popping noises came to the minds of many as they heard news of a short-circuit in a controversial plan to build a multi-billion dollar high-voltage transmissions line that would span 600 miles from Lassen County to serve Sacramento and Bay Area utility customers.

Following months of agitated protests from community groups organized across Northern California, including Round Mountain, Glenn and Shasta Counties, Capay, Clarksburg, Winters and Davis in Yolo County, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties, tribal groups of Native Americans, and environmentalists, the Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) terminated the project.

The burden of negative impacts, such as health concerns, blight and loss of property value, affected thousands of people in many communities, yet these communities would not benefit from energy of the line. Inadequate notification to property owners, cities, and counties forced the agency to extend the scoping comment deadline several times.

TANC is a joint powers agency, a consortium of 15 municipal utilities, but only five were participating in the transmission line project (Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Modesto Irrigation District (MID), Turlock Irrigation District (TID), Silicon Valley Power (City of Santa Clara) and Redding Electric). State mandates to meet renewable energy goals of 20 percent by 2012, and an anticipated boost to 30 percent by 2020, is the primary justification for the project, according to TANC officials. The scheduled completion was 2014.

Questions of fiscal responsibility arose when a study by the California Energy Commission, called the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI), evaluated 30 potential sites for renewable energy and the Lassen County source was ranked virtually at the bottom of the list. The RETI report also stated it was one of the most costly to build and having the most impact on the environment. Despite the evidence, TANC steadfastly moved forward with its plans as a frustrated public perceived its comments falling on deaf ears.

Citing uncertainty of plans by the federal government to construct transmission lines, SMUD, with the largest stake in the project at 37 percent, withdrew its support on July 1. The TID and MID followed suit two weeks later on July 14th. With financial support severed by three significant partners, the entire project collapsed the following day as TANC general manager Jim Beck announced termination of the project, including engineering and EIR/EIS reports.

And that marked the demise of what many critics called, “The Power Line to Nowhere.”

Reasons Why the TANC project Imploded:

1. TANC was not fair and not accepting responsibilities or negative impacts. It is bad public policy to place lines in communities where there is no access to the energy provided and making these communities bear all of the negative burdens, while the cities that benefit suffer no impacts. There are existing rights of way, possibilites of co-location and as much non-densely populated areas in Sacramento where lines could have been placed. If they truly were alternate routes, why do all 3 run through Yolo County and none through Sacramento? All of the lines are generally in the same area. It is a lose-lose situation for many communities, and win-win for many cities that would receive the power and no burden of negative impacts.

2. No notification to local governments, or very vague notification, of lines going over city and county owned properties. No notification to school districts (the proposed central 2 line was directly across the street from Harper Jr. High in Davis). TANC should have worked with the public and city and county governments to developed route criteria before issuing proposed routes.

3. Lack of integrity with public image of TANC and the TANC/Navigant relationship. TANC consistently called itself a not-for-profit agency. But it has just one employee, general manager, James Beck, and his desk is in the Navigant offices. The Navigant web site indicates that it is a worldwide consulting conglomerate that is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. It states on its web site, something to the effect that its foremost goal is “maximizing shareholder interests,” which certainly sounds like a profit-making agenda. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this relationship but the public perception is that of mistrust. If in fact, the tangled relationship turned out to be private, then a private company would not and should not have rights of eminent domain.

4. Lack of transparency despite many requests from the public to have access to engineering and environmental studies, maps of existing transmission lines, and cost/benefit analyses (such as rate increases), TANC did not provide information requested. There was also a failure to provide evidence of congestion and reliability of the current transmission system.

5. Mismanaged planning, as there were no contracts signed for renewable power supply. CEQA regulations require jointly, plans/contracts for power supply and transmission lines.

6. No state regulation of publicly-owned utility agencies. The controversial TANC plan brought to the attention of lawmakers this egregious oversight. State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) introduced legislation (SB 460) to close a loophole in existing state law that exempts publicly-owned utilities from state oversight in planning and location of high voltage transmission lines. Senator Wolk states, “While this project is no longer moving forward, the root problem is still there,” she said. “The TANC project was a cautionary tale of what can happen when local public utilities aren’t held to the same state oversight and coordination as their investor-owned counterparts. The planning process for local public utility projects remains horribly flawed.”

Most opponents of the TANC project have a history of conservation and support the need for renewable energy, but this plan was fatally flawed.

Although it is lights out for TANC, many skeptics now keep a watchful eye on the federal government’s stimulus plan which includes high-voltage transmission projects for renewable energy.

Written by Nora Shimoda, Journalist, Media Strategist, Davis/Yolo County Ad Hoc Coalition opposing TANC.

TANC pulls plug

TANC project ended

TANC power plan plug pulled

TANC tanks as the public gets involved

TANC Powerline project goes dark

NorCal power agency abandons power line project

From “Silicon Valley Mercury News” (ummm, whatever happend to San Jose Mercury News?):

Controversial power line project canceled

By Jeanine Benca,

Bay Area News Group

Posted: 07/15/2009 07:00:00 PM PDT

Updated: 07/15/2009 09:05:35 PM PDT

The plug has been pulled on a controversial 600-mile power line project that would have delivered renewable energy to the city of Santa Clara and other parts of Northern California, officials from the Transmission Agency of Northern California said Wednesday.

The announcement to terminate the $1.5 billion project, made after a special meeting of the 15 public power providers who make up TANC, was spurred by the withdrawal of utility districts in Modesto, Turlock and Sacramento, said TANC spokesman Brendan Wonnacott.

The agency had hoped by 2014 to connect power lines from yet-to-be-developed wind and solar farms in northeastern California to power-thirsty urban areas elsewhere in Northern California. The lines would have wound through parts of the Central Valley and Bay Area, cutting through more than 50 agricultural and viticultural tracts in Livermore and Pleasanton, to bring energy to the city of Santa Clara and other TANC members.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District abruptly backed out of the project earlier this month, citing financial and regulatory concerns. The district also voiced doubts over whether northeastern Lassen County — the proposed starting point for the transmission line system — was the best site for renewable energy.

On Monday, the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts followed suit.

“Without the financial support of key TANC utility members to proceed with this process, TANC cannot


undertake a detailed environmental analysis. “… As such, the (project) and the proposed alternative routes are no longer being considered,” Wonnacott said in a press release.

The withdrawing utilities had pledged to shoulder 70 percent of the project costs, and their departure left an irreparable hole in the budget, Wonnacott said.

Santa Clara, which was poised to contribute $200 million for the total 1,600 megawatt project and had already invested about $750,000 for preliminary engineering and environmental reports, took the latest news in stride.

“The city thinks this is the right decision,” said city spokesman Dan Beerman. “It was all contingent on having a large number of players to help fund a big project that would benefit everybody within those districts or cities.”

Now, he said, the city will be looking to procure renewable power needs from other sources.

The news of the project’s demise thrilled environmentalists and property owners up and down the state who fought the plan.

Opponents said that while they were supportive of renewable energy sources, they took issue with the TANC project’s potential health, aesthetic and economic impacts. They argued that better options, such as state-of-the-art underground transmission lines, needed to be explored.

Wonnacott stressed that while the TANC project is no longer viable, the agency remains committed to developing ways to meet state targets for renewable energy.

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