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SMUD Proposes High-Voltage Transmission Line For Colusa And Sutter Counties

SMUD / Courtesy

SMUD / Courtesy

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District plans to build a high-voltage transmission line across Sutter and Colusa counties.

Lowell Rogers is a project manager for SMUD. He says one option is a line that would cover 44 miles, following an existing line. A second option would impact new land owners, but would cover 24 miles.

"During our initial studies with stakeholders, we asked for opportunities and constraints for sighting a line like this. And out of that process, we found the existing transmission line -- to follow the existing infrastructure and then the other input we received was just to take the most direct route."

The California-Oregon Transmission Project line carries renewable energy and energy created with low greenhouse gas emissions from Washington and Oregon.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District currently cannot access the line.

Rogers says state law requires utilities to supply half of their electricity using clean energy by 2030.

"Meeting 50-percent renewables is a heavy lift. It will take transmission to get that renewable energy from where it's at to our load centers."

SMUD says the 44-mile-long option runs parallel to an existing line from the Maxwell substation in Colusa County to the Obanion substation south of Yuba City.  The 24-mile-long route would connect the Obanion substation to a new juncture that is almost due west.

The California-Oregon Transmission Project line runs parallel, and is about five miles west of Interstate 5.

Assemblyman James Gallagher says farmers are concerned the lines would affect crop-dusting and planting.

"It's not very easy to deal with and there's been a lot of conflicts, especially with regard to orchards. But, even with rice fields, if you're going to do crop-dusting and you're flying on seed, it's a difficult thing to do."

Gallagher says the ranchers are also worried about how much of their land they might lose because of the project.

"The landowners who potentially could be dealing with having these new lines being put across their property and essentially looking at possible eminent domain or a forced easement across their property -- they're certainly not happy about it."

On extreme peak days, demand for SMUD power is about 3,000 megawatts.

The utility says it will have access to 700 megawatts of clean energy once the connection is made.

However, if that power comes from hydroelectric sources, it will not count toward the utility's clean-energy supply.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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