Construction crews are grading roads and constructing tower foundations for the Path 15 transmission upgrade in central California.

On Sept. 15, 2003, Western Area Power Administration (Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.) received US$76 million from Trans-Elect's New Transmission Development Company, which is responsible for funding the 500-kV transmission line, to start work on the 84-mile (135-km) transmission line. Western is the federal agency managing the project, and Maslonka & Associates (Mesa, Arizona, U.S.) is the transmission line contractor.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (San Francisco, California, U.S), the third Path 15 upgrade participant, will manage all substation work to accommodate the new line at its existing Los Banos and Gates substations.

“The line was designed to take into account the land uses and terrain,” said Tom Boyko, Western's Path 15 project manager. “For example, we will use steel poles rather than lattice towers in orchards and cropland to minimize the footprint and provide extra orchard clearance. Poles also will be used on a 10-mile (16-km) monocline ridge due to the terrain and in areas where we want to deter raptors from perching.”

The Path 15 project will add a third line to the two existing 500-kV lines and upgrade the substations at either end of this segment. It will add 1500 MW of transmission capacity between Northern and Southern California and is expected to come online in late 2004.
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