A massive project that would see miles of overhead power lines strewn across Lake Elsinore and the surrounding Cleveland National Forest got another setback Tuesday.
An administrative law judge denied an application from The Nevada Hydro Company for a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” for the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano 500kV Interconnect Project (see the attached April 3 decision).
would see 32 miles of overhead power lines and 138 steel lattice towers cut across wild lands and rural communities in the local hillsides and Cleveland National Forest above Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and other surrounding communities. The lines would stretch southward to SDG&E's existing 230 kV Talega-Escondido transmission line in San Diego County, and northward to SCE's 500 kV Valley-Serrano transmission line in Riverside County.
The proposed project is tied to the controversial Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage project (LEAPS), which calls for pumping water from Lake Elsinore to a new dam on the crest of the Cleveland National Forest, then releasing that water to power turbines to generate electricity.
In order to move forward on the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano 500kV Interconnect portion of the project, the California Public Utilities Commission required The Nevada Hydro Company to apply for the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The application required that the company show a public need for the project based on economic, reliability, or renewable goals, or any combination of the three, according to CPUC documents.
In denying the application, the administrative law judge found that “despite 18 months of work, the application is not complete and does not conform to our requirements.”
The decision, which still needs to be voted on by the CPUC to become final, also determined that The Nevada Hydro Company will not have an easy time if it wants to apply for the certificate in the future. According to CPUC documents, the company’s application for a certificate had already been denied twice before.
“… we impose a series of conditions that must be met if we are to consider an application for this project (or similar projects) in the future,” the April 3 decision stated. “The Commission cannot afford to squander its resources on applications, that … remain vague and speculative as to financing plan and indeed the project description itself.”
The April 3 decision also mandated that The Nevada Hydro Company pay any compensations and reimbursable contracts before it attempts to file a new application, and it must provide a $550,000 surety bond that will remain in place until all applicable parties are paid.
The Nevada Hydro Company’s proposed project is now estimated to cost over $650 million to complete and $25 million has been invested thus far, according to CPUC documents.