The Sunrise Powerlink, a somewhat controversial and major transmission line project in San Diego, California that we first mentioned back in May, looks to have gotten its final go ahead recently. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the utility behind the 120 mile powerline that will bring power from remote renewable energy sources to local residents, is now moving forward with construction.
The final piece of the approval puzzle came from the U.S. Forest Service which, after a reportedly rigorous environmental review, gave its sign off for the construction, operation and maintenance of a 19-mile segment of the transmission line through the Cleveland National Forest. This approval joins previous decisions from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in late 2008 and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in early 2009. At a cost of $1.9 billion, the Sunrise Powerlink is said to represent the most comprehensive completed permitting process and environmental review for a power line in California history.
A project of this scale, which cuts through a variety of land terrains from remote areas in southern California’s Imperial Valley to residences and businesses in the San Diego region, is certainly not without its share of issues. Lawsuits have been filed to stop the project and, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, at least one county supervisor is opposed to it because of “its impact on rural residents she represents and fears that it will spark fires and make them harder to fight.” Will Metz, Cleveland National Forest superintendent, told the paper in his ruling that “I know the character of the Cleveland National Forest is going to be changed by this project. This decision, I do not make lightly.”
“This key decision accelerates the momentum for the Sunrise Powerlink, a project that will create much needed jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions and bolster reliability for the region’s power grid,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chief executive officer of SDG&E, in a statement. “This project will access vast, untapped sources of renewable power for the people of San Diego County and help create a cleaner, more environmentally-responsible future for the region.”