EDITORS: Please do not use
"Pacific Gas and Electric" or "PG&E" when
referring to PG&E Corporation or its National Energy Group.
The PG&E National Energy Group is not the same company as Pacific
Gas and Electric Company, the utility, and is not regulated by the
California Public Utilities Commission. Customers of Pacific Gas
and Electric Company do not have to buy products or services from
the National Energy Group in order to continue to receive quality
regulated services from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
CONDITIONAL PATH 15 FILING AT CPUC, FOCUSES EFFORTS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
PROJECT ALREADY UNDERWAY
DOE/WAPA Project Provides
Better Sharing of Costs and Benefits
SAN FRANCISCO - With the
recent signing of a multi-party Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
to begin upgrading Path 15 transmission lines and infrastructure,
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has withdrawn its filing at the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) of a Conditional Application
for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity authorizing
the construction of a Path 15 upgrade.
The MOU - led by the U.S.
Department of Energy and the federal Western Area Power Administration
(WAPA) - was signed by PG&E and several other public and private
entities on October 18, 2001 in Palo Alto. It represents the best
solution for upgrading Path 15 for the benefit of all California
residents, and will do so on an aggressive schedule, by as early
as Summer 2004. In light of this important new development, and
to avoid needlessly increasing ratepayer costs by continuing with
a duplicative process that is no longer necessary, PG&E is withdrawing
its Conditional Application from further CPUC consideration.
"The Path 15 project outlined
in the MOU envisions an innovative public-private partnership, where
the parties will not only share the benefits but each will share
an appropriate level of project costs," said Gordon R. Smith, president
and CEO of the utility. "Since the benefits of a Path 15 upgrade
will be shared by all California residents, the costs also should
be shared fairly - and they will be, under this federally sponsored
"Participation of federal
government agencies in this Path 15 upgrade project will reduce
the overall costs to PG&E's customers, will help streamline the
permitting process, and should assist with the coordination that
will be needed among the numerous federal, state, and local agencies
involved," Smith said.
"We are pleased to have
the opportunity to work with PG&E and the other project participants
to upgrade Path 15," said Mike Hacskaylo, WAPA's Administrator.
"Western appreciates the work by the California Public Utilities
Commission in studying the environmental impacts and moving the
project forward. We pledge to work with the participants to help
them meet state requirements and expedite this important project."
"We would also like to recognize
the important contributions made by the CPUC in their work to complete
the necessary environmental reviews," said Smith. "In particular,
PG&E applauds the Commission for the speed with which it produced
such a comprehensive draft environmental impact report. We expect
this report will serve as the basis for the WAPA project's compliance
with the California Environmental Quality Act."
If PG&E alone were to construct
the Path 15 upgrade, the roughly $320 million cost of design, permitting,
and construction would be borne initially only by customers of California's
investor-owned utilities. Instead, under the WAPA project, responsibility
for those costs will be spread over a larger number of customers,
including customers of the participants in the Transmission Agency
of Northern California and WAPA, and customers of various private
energy companies, all of whom will benefit from the Path 15 upgrade.
Under the MOU, PG&E will
construct the necessary modifications at its existing Los Banos
and Gates 500 kV substations and the 230 kV reconductoring work,
expected to cost approximately $65-75 million. Importantly, PG&E
will receive a commensurate percentage of the capacity on the new
500 kV line to devote to the ISO-controlled grid, for the benefit
of California consumers of electricity. PG&E also expects to receive
an additional interest in the WAPA project commensurate with its
other costs incurred, including costs for the engineering and environmental
work performed to date and the costs necessary to fund preparation
of the CPUC's draft environmental impact report.
PG&E is withdrawing the
Conditional Application now to avoid incurring further significant
costs for permitting and certification in connection with the Commission's
process. These CPUC measures would be duplicative of those already
underway through the MOU process, and would increase ratepayer costs