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California tribe becomes first Native American owner of transmission assets

image credit: © Southern California Edison
Peter Key's picture
Freelance Writer, Editor, Consultant Self-employed

I've been a business journalist since 1985 when I received an MBA from Penn State. I covered energy, technology, and venture capital for The Philadelphia Business Journal from 1998 through 2013....

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  • Aug 10, 2021
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Native American tribes in the Southwest and Southern California often are well-positioned to cash in on the country’s renewable energy boom.

 

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians said last month that it has done just that — by becoming the first tribe in the country to be approved as the participating owner in a transmission project.

 

The Morongo said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in early July finalized all approvals allowing operations of a partnership between them and Axium Infrastructure’s Coachella Partners, LLC subsidiary. The Morongo have the majority stake in the partnership, which is called Morongo Transmission, LLC.

 

The California Independent System Operator approved the partnership’s membership application in February, which also was a first, according to The Desert Sun.

 

The approvals will allow Morongo Transmission to exercise its option to lease a percentage of the transfer capability of Southern California Edison’s West of Devers Upgrade Project, which tripled the transmission capacity of lines in an existing 48-mile corridor that runs from the Devers substation near Palm Springs to Grand Terrace and San Bernadino.

 

SCE granted Morongo Transmission the option in return for a payment of a pro rata percentage of the cost of the project, which boosted the capacity of the transmission lines in the corridor from 1,600 megawatts to 4,800 MW. In addition to reducing the cost of the project for SCE, the agreement allowed the company to obtain new rights of way for the project across the Morongo Indian Reservation west of Palm Springs.

 

The project will transmit power generated by solar, wind, and battery resources in eastern Riverside County, Imperial County and outside California to population centers in Southern California.

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