I watched the new IID management present revised Major Work Authorizations (MWA) to the IID Board. Each time the new management has reduced the cost of the project significantly. While this cost saving can be good, I can’t help but ask, has a risk analysis been done? Are the cost reductions really just cost deferrals? What are the risks of not doing the work as planned by the “old planning staff”?
Let me cite a few examples from a common sense perspective:
1. The S Line project is a wood pole 230 kV line from El Centro to Imperial Valley Substation. If you drive along the line it doesn’t exactly look like a reliable transmission line. Some replacement steel poles were purchased a number of years ago to allow for upgrading the line at certain designated areas. These poles are stored at the El Centro Generating Plant. What is the risk if the wood poles fall over? I know one of the pathways to bring energy into IID from the east would be severed. Since that energy is cheaper than purchasing from the CAISO, I’d think IID would want a reliable connection. The new IID management cancelled the project.
2. On March 15, 2016 the new IID management presented a revised MWA to reduce the Niland Substation project by $8.4 million. They decided to recommend that a large transformer that was planned to be installed, be used as a spare. They also recommended a transformer from La Quinta be moved to Niland instead. This might be a good idea, but I’ve got some questions and like Director Kuhn, some lingering doubts on this one. As stated in the revised MWA the existing substation bus structures are wooden. Just how old is this installation? If it was built on poles and wood supports it must be quite old. Is it safe for IID construction and maintenance people to operate and maintain? How reliable is this substation? IID has a relatively new peaking turbine plant and will have two PV generators connected there. Wouldn’t a good reliable connection point be needed?
3. With the planned removal of a large transformer from Ave 58 Substation in La Quinta to send it to Niland, what happens to reliability in La Quinta? There won’t be the redundant feed needed to keep the lights on if the one transformer is out of service. This same recommendation was made by the new management for the second transformer addition at Ramon Substation. What happens if one of those transformers needs to come out of service? Would there be a long outage? As I recall the lead time to get a transformer can be as much as 3 years.
Who is assessing the risks? What is the new management plan? Without one, the risk of sitting in the dark looks inevitable.