California advances high-speed power sites

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Connecting the power grid to California's high-speed rail line now under construction took a major step forward on Tuesday with the award of a $36-million contract to Pacific Gas & Electric.

The contract approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority calls for PG&E to design, engineer, and permit 10 substations along the 345-mile route from San Jose in the Bay Area to Bakersfield at the south end of the Central Valley. The contract runs through 2018.

"The schedule outlined in the 2016 Business Plan has testing of the system beginning in January 2021," Chief Program Manager Frank Vacca says in an Oct. 11 memo to the authority's board. "Approval of this contract now will assist in ensuring that the power necessary to conduct the testing will be available to meet this schedule."

Future contracts to connect 115-kilovolt and 230-kilovolt systems to the rail line are anticipated with Southern California Edison, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and possibly the city of Burbank, he adds. Transformer stations would distribute the power to overhead wires.

The first series of construction packages covers the Central Valley from Madera through Fresno to Bakersfield. The current schedule calls for the San Francisco-Los Angeles line to be operational by 2029 in fewer than three hours at speeds up to 220 mph.

Earlier this year, the authority released reports on route alternatives for connecting Bakersfield with Los Angeles Union Station by way of Anaheim, Calif.
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