August 11, 2006

California Energy Circuit

SDG&E Files Sunrise Transmission Proposal at CPUC

The Sunrise Powerlink transmission line that would bring power in from the east to San Diego will cost about $1.27 billion and stretch for 150 miles, with a section running through state parklands.

A detailed plan for a certificate of public convenience and necessity was filed with the California Public Utilities Commission August 4. The commission expects to determine the filing's regulatory path August 24.

The transmission line is sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, Citizens Energy, and the Imperial Irrigation District. The plan was filed the day after the California Independent System Operator's approval. While noting that the 1,000 MW, 500 kV line has some siting difficulties and questionable cost-benefit methodologies, the CAISO board gave it a unanimous vote August
3 because it would contribute to grid reliability and bring in renewable power from the desert (Circuit, Aug. 4, 2006).

The line "would provide additional benefits such as enabling SDG&E's ability to meet its 2010 renewables targets, mitigating energy costs by reducing reliability-mustrun and congestion costs, and increasing supply diversity,"
asserted the utility in its proposal. The filing also stated that the line could help meet demand during increasingly hot summers. "Nature can exceed even adverse planning assumptions," the utility commented.

SDG&E is the lead project proponent. If the other two sponsors drop out, the utility told regulators, it will pursue the line on its own.

Among the changes between the original and the current proposal are:

. Moving the line slightly east to near Santa Ysabel, to avoid a scenic area.
. Changing the siting south of Rancho Pensaquitos to avoid vernal pools.
. Adding 30 miles in Imperial County to avoid military air space.

Opponents call the transmission line "unnecessary." According to David Hogan, Center for Biological Diversity urban wildlands program director, it would "undermine local electricity generation, discourage renewable energy, thrash parks, people, and nature."

State park officials formally oppose the project because of its potential visual impacts.

-J.A. Savage