Terminating TANC

The controversial TANC Transmission Project has, thankfully, been put out of its misery, its environmental review terminated. TANC’s fate was pretty much sealed the minute the project’s biggest backer, SMUD, announced it was pulling out of the deal to build 600 miles of new electricity lines down the Sacramento Valley.

TANC (the Transmission Agency of Northern California) is the creation of a consortium of 15 public-utility districts, from Redding to Santa Clara, that seeks to transmit renewable energy from as-yet-unbuilt solar, wind and geothermal generators in Lassen County to the Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley.

SMUD was in for 35 percent of the $1.5 billion cost, so its pullout left the project with a $525 million hole to fill. Since TANC couldn’t rope in other utility companies willing to spend that much money, the project simply shorted out.

The reason a SMUD spokeswoman gave for the utility’s withdrawal last month was that the “overall project” wasn’t “strong enough” to warrant continuing to spend money on it.

What SMUD couldn’t have anticipated was TANC’s ineptness. To say the agency muffed it is an understatement. It failed to notify local officials of its plans and couldn’t seem to find the addresses of most landowners along its proposed routes. It failed to look closely at its routes and so ended up proposing to build over homes, schools, airports and wetlands. And, because its efforts seemed designed to hide the project from public view, it raised both hackles and suspicion among the public. All of the above gave local anti-TANC activists a real target to shoot at. And shoot they did.

No wonder TANC got terminated.