SANDAG board backs Sunrise Powerlink by 17-3 vote
Union Tribune (2008-04-11) J Harry Jones
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, Sunrise Powerlink
By J Harry Jones
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
6:14 p.m. April 11, 2008
The board members of the county's long-range planning group overwhelmingly endorsed the Sunrise Powerlink Friday. Sort of.
The vote amounted to nothing more than a recommendation, and even then it was vague on details.
After listening to about 2½ hours of public testimony, the directors of the San Diego Association of Governments voted 17-3 to send a letter to the state's Public Utilities Commission saying that San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed high-voltage transmission line “is consistent” with part of the county's Regional Energy Strategy.
The utilities commission is the governmental body that will decide later this year whether the transmission line should be built.
Although the SANDAG board made it clear the letter was not an official endorsement of the project, it nonetheless angered opponents, who outnumbered supporters 2 to 1 at the meeting. There was an overflow crowd and about 70people spoke.
Many business leaders representing numerous companies in the region urged the board to support the project to ensure that the lights stay on in the future.
Opponents railed against the 150-mile long $1.5 billion line, saying it would destroy the natural beauty of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the backcountry, and that it was a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem.
SDG&E maintains the line is needed to transport energy create by solar and geothermal projects in the Imperial Valley that haven't been built yet. Opponents said the real reason the utility wants the line is to transport power produced in Mexico and that the “green energy” aspect is an illusion.
SANDAG is governed by a board composed of mayors, council members, and county supervisors from each of the region's 19 local governments.
“I am disappointed,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who voted against the motion and who has been a vociferous opponent of the line for two years. “Frankly I think everybody had their minds made up before the testimony.”
In a related development Friday, Southern California Edison, which has not previously taken a position on Sunrise, moved yesterday to support the project.
In a letter addressed to the California PUC and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Los Angeles utility which supplies power to about 11 million customers in southern California said the Sunrise line “can contribute significantly to meeting the state's renewable energy goals.”