| For immediate release
January 20, 2006
Groups intervene in California proceedings for major new power line
San Diego, Calif. – Two conservation groups filed a formal motion today with the California Public Utilities Commission opposing San Diego Gas and Electric’s proposed massive “Sunrise Powerlink” power line project and the company’s attempt to sidestep standard utilities commission procedures. SDG&E is a subsidiary of SEMPRA Energy, Inc. The two groups are the Center for Biological Diversity and San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The Sunrise Powerlink is a major new large-capacity power line proposed for construction from the Imperial Valley to the north coastal City of San Diego through many communities, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Cleveland National Forest, and the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan preserve. The new line is intended primarily to move imported power from Mexico and help SEMPRA increase its market power in southern California.
“The pretty name is nothing but window dressing for an extraordinarily ugly project,” said David Hogan, Director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Urban Wildlands Program. “The new power line will harm wildlife and trash parks and forest with no apparent benefit to energy reliability.”
The groups’ motion opposes SDG&E’s request for preferential treatment during review of the project by the California Public Utilities Commission with SDG&E’s requested exemption from standard filing requirements. The groups also oppose the company’s request that the utilities commission make an early decision on the purpose and need of the project prior to conducting thorough environmental review and separate from a later decision on route location. The Center previously requested (and was granted) an extension on the formal protest period and relocation of a January 31 hearing to San Diego County (Ramona).
“SDG&E seems engaged in a campaign to stifle public involvement and meaningful review of project impacts,” said Kelly Fuller of the Sierra Club. “First they file their utilities commission application when people are away for December holidays, then they seek an exemption from the standard commission review process. Also, SDG&E’s claims that no specific route has been selected are insincere at best. Designated State Wilderness precludes all but one route through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and that route leads directly to Ranchita and Warner Springs.”
The groups are also concerned that likely high construction and transmission costs will also result in increased electricity costs for consumers and that other more reasonable alternatives to increase energy reliability and support renewable energy should be fully explored.
“This power line is bad for ratepayers and bad for the environment so conservation groups and consumer advocates are closely aligned with concerns over the project,” said Hogan. “This project has nothing to do with improving energy reliability and everything to do with lining the pockets of SDG&E shareholders.”
Formal Protests and Responses on the Sunrise Powerlink have also been filed by the Ratepayers Division of the California Public Utilities Commission; Duke Energy; the cities of Hemet, Murrieta, and Temecula; the Imperial Irrigation District; Utility Consumers’ Action Network; and individuals.
For more information, see the Center for Biological Diversity's Sunrise Powerlink website.