SDG&E transmission line that bypasses park approved by state


The California Public Utilities Commission today voted 4-1 to approve the Sunrise Powerlink’s southern route alternative proposed by President Michael Peevey. Peevey said this decision will make it easier for the 123-mile renewable energy “superhighway” from Imperial Valley to develop without delay and that the line is the best way to reach the state’s goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Commissioner Dian Grueneich, the sole dissenting vote, had an alternate proposed decision on the table that placed restrictions on the route’s approval that required SDG&E to use the line for clean, renewable energy.

Grueneich said the commission couldn’t just rely on promises and the “invisible hand” of the renewable market.

“It is ratepayer money,” Grueneich said. “We have an obligation to ensure that they will see a return on their investment.”

Peevey said that Grueneich’s proposed conditional restrictions were “heavy-handed” and “unrealistic.”

A crowd of 39 supporters of Peevey’s decision came to the San Francisco hearing to express their support, including Mayor Jerry Sanders and representatives from various Chambers of Commerces from Orange County to Chula Vista.

Four supporters of the Grueneich decision also spoke, mostly affiliated with the Sierra Club.

While the Sierra Club was happy to see Anza-Borrego State Park spared with the alternate route, they disagreed with the approval of the line without conditions.

“The CPUC has given SDG&E the green light to sacrifice public lands and collect cash from state ratepayers without demanding that SDG&E sign a clean energy guarantee,” said the Sierra Club’s Micah Mitrosky in a statement. “The decision is especially distressing because SDG&E has been a laggard in meeting its renewable energy requirements. This decision rewards one of the state’s weakest links in meeting the challenge of global warming.”

In addition to sparing Anza Borrego, the southern route also ensures no new power lines in Carmel Valley, only system upgrades.