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Utilities pull plug on transmission line thru South County

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POSTED July 17, 2009 1:37 a.m.
The plan to construction a 600-mile high-voltage power project that would have delivered renewable energy from Lassen County to Modesto, Turlock, and parts of the Bay Area is officially dead.

A week after the Sacramento Municipal Utility District decided to back out of the project that has been in the works since 2007, the agency overseeing the project, the Transmission Agency of Northern California, announced that the project will no longer be pursued.

Widespread concern and criticism started to mount when word of the impacts of the project, which would have required massive 150-foot towers to be placed along the route, filtered down to residents and farmers that feared their property would be impacted and rendered unusable due to the easements that each of the support towers required.

And early work done to draw possible routes was done with old maps that didn’t contain parcels of land that have since been developed into residential homes, putting one of Ripon’s newest housing projects right through the heart of the initial route that was also preliminarily pegged to slice right through the Mistlin Sports Park and a parcel of land owned by the Ripon Unified School District.

With Sacramento serving as the major arterial thoroughfare for the power lines, the announcement last week by SMUD indefinitely sidelined the $1.5 billion project that organizers claimed would have provided the 15 government power firms that comprise TANC with the renewable energy that would soon be required by law.

Geothermal elements in rural Lassen County was one of the reasons that TANC decided to venture north, also noting that the remote country would be a perfect location for solar power cells and other renewable projects.

Shasta County’s Round Mountain was also slated to be tapped as a wind power generation facility, but residents of Redding quickly filed a lawsuit when they learned of the scope of the project and how the lines would run through the heart of the growing county seat.

Ripon Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart quickly became versed with what TANC was planning on doing with the project, and was instrumental in the City of Ripon drafting a letter that outlined its position – not wanting to have anything to do with the 500,000 kV lines that would severely impact agricultural operations and limit future expansion and growth in some of the community’s most important areas.

Both Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts also pulled out of the project last week, a sign to the remaining agencies that the project was likely dead even before the announcement came on Wednesday.
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