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Energy task force aims to improve generators competitiveness

April 16, 2011|By WILLIAM ROLLER | Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer

The Renewable Energy Task Force is a good mechanism to remove obstacles in the way of generators maximizing profit potential, said Andy Horne, deputy county executive officer of natural resources.

Horne helped facilitate the task force meeting Thursday that tried to make solar energy more competitive by revising the transmission service charge for variable energy resources.

The task force was created last month to promote renewable energy. It is comprised of representatives from the Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, board of supervisors and approximately 55 energy generators.

In order for generators to get power to market, they deliver it over IID transmission lines, for which they pay a wheeling tariff.

The current wheeling tariff has disadvantages for solar energy, Dave Kolk, IID energy department manager said. In an attempt to resolve those disadvantages IID engaged the company of R.W. Beck to produce a new formula for a more equitable tariff.

Solar energy, on the average, can produce energy only approximately eight to 10 hours a day. The current wheeling tariff is $1.69 per kilowatt month. But since solar cannot run as often as other types of power, an effective wheeling tariff, according to a model constructed by R.W. Beck, would be $9.09 per kilowatt month, Kolk noted.

IID is studying another model constructed by R.W. Beck, where solar could effectively pay just $5.29 per kilowatt month. But solar generators appealed for even a lower tariff.

IID is willing to lower the tariff further, as long as ratepayers are protected against having to pay operating and maintenance costs associated with new transmission lines for renewable energy, he said.

During the next five to seven years, renewable energy investment in Imperial County has a potential of developing 20 to 25 new facilities with an approximate investment of $10 billion, Kolk noted.

The task force also addressed resource adequacy. It requires power generators to maintain a certain power load capacity. Certain generators within Imperial County are unable to sell their power outside the IID service area without the resource adequacy designation.

IID is attempting to resolve the issue by having the Independent System Operator and the state Public Utilities Commission change how they account for capacity, Kolk said.

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