Highwind Project is the first considered under new rules that allow the California ISO to designate a renewable energy resource area and allows Highwind to move forward under the Location Constrained Resource Interconnection (LCRI) process approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late 2007. The LCRI process provides a way for the California ISO to approve a project based on its ability to access remotely located wind, solar, geothermal or other renewable areas. And it sets up a cost recovery and project approval mechanism that breaks the chicken-or-egg dilemma.

The interim approval process under the LCRI though requires board designation as a renewable area.

A preliminary report from the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative looked at 37 Competitive Renewable Energy Zone. The Tehachapi wind resources area was also identified as having the largest potential annual energy output of all evaluated zones, with an estimated 25,091 GWh per year.

“The remote areas in California with the most potential for wind, solar and geothermal resources often do not have the transmission infrastructure in place to get the green power on the grid,” said California ISO Board Chair Mason Willrich. “The ISO proposed and FERC approved a new mechanism that paves the way for easier financing and development of needed renewable power projects. Smaller developers no longer bear the brunt of the upfront costs of investing in the transmission lines. This is a big step in meeting California’s renewable energy goals.”