Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.


Kelly Fuller, Sierra Club, (619) 933-9969
David Hogan, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 809-9244

Today’s Powerlink Decision Advisory Only
Final State Decision Not Expected Until Late 2007

San Diego, Calif. – A California electric power management organization today issued a controversial decision supporting the need for San Diego Gas and Electric’s (SDG&E’s) proposed “Sunrise Powerlink” transmission line project. However, the decision by the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) is only advisory and will in no way dictate the outcome of a separate, binding decision-making process by the California Public Utilities Commission.

CAISO is a non-profit, federally regulated organization that coordinates, controls and monitors the operation of the California electric power transmission grid. CAISO also serves as a marketplace in wholesale power, especially since the electricity market deregulation of the late 1990s. CAISO is not a government agency, so its actions are not subject to public review, and decisions like the one announced today are advisory only.

“CAISO’s decision is deplorable and shows contempt for the public,” said Sierra Club activist Kelly Fuller. “CAISO created a sham public participation process with only five days to review its 70 page final report recommending that the line be built. When the public sent hundreds of emails begging for more time to review the report, CAISO said no, and then had the audacity to claim that it had adequately considered the public’s concerns.”

“Today’s decision was nothing more than a carefully orchestrated political maneuver to support Sempra Energy’s agenda against the public interest,” said David Hogan, Director of the Urban Wildlands Program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public will now look to the utilities commission to follow a legitimate decision-making process and take today’s decision with the grain of salt it deserves.”

“CAISO’s decision isn’t unexpected given their single minded focus on the energy grid rather than conservation, renewable energy or even gas-fired power plants,” said San Diego Sierra Club Energy Chair Paul Blackburn. “And it seems like the group has never met a transmission line project it didn’t like. There are other far more reasonable and less harmful ways to deliver renewable energy to California’s growing population, and unfortunately, SDG&E has chosen a solar energy company that can’t deliver the amount of energy it promises for at least a decade.”

The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity have raised a number of specific concerns on the CAISO decision and process. According to letters sent by the groups:

• The Powerlink would transmit primarily coal and gas power, not renewable energy;
• There was virtually no opportunity for meaningful public participation;
• CAISO’s staff actually helped craft SDG&E’s proposal such that staff’s recommendation was biased in favor of SDG&E and against the public good;
• The decision undermines California laws to protect the environment; and
• CAISO failed to adequately investigate the disputed economic merits of the project.

The Sunrise Powerlink is a major new electrical transmission line project from the Imperial Valley desert to the north coastal City of San Diego. As currently proposed, the line would cut through the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and many other habitat preserves, parks and communities, causing significant harm to nature and people.

SDG&E documents reveal that Powerlink is just phase one of a master plan by parent Sempra Energy to expand the California market for imported cheap, polluting, fossil-fuel power from its Mexico power plant and others.

More information is available at and Kelly Fuller’s blog at

The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.


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