Despite questions about its route through state parklands and its economic evaluation, the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric cleared its first regulatory hurdle at the California Independent System Operator August 3. The utility expects to file its proposal with the California Public Utilities Commission August 4. Business representatives told the grid operator board that they are heartily in favor of the line. Community representatives asked for delay at the least, and rejection of the proposal at best. Environmentalists told the board they are wavering. They support the line's ability to engage more renewables development but remain unhappy with its proposed path, which runs through a state park. The line is supposed to access geothermal energy in the Salton Sea area, as well as proposed solar-thermal electric plants in the desert. Joe Kennedy, chair of Citizens Energy, a line developer, along with SDG&E and the Imperial Irrigation District, touted the line for its ability to ameliorate global warming and poverty in its path. Bringing the rhetoric down to a more mathematical level, board member Ed Cazalet questioned the CAISO staff's conclusion that the line's benefits will exceed its costs by 50 percent. The calculations are based on the opportunity cost of money at 8 percent. Cazalet and California Energy Commission member John Geesman support a calculation using a 3 percent opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is what that money would earn otherwise if invested in the market. Geesman, on behalf of the Energy Commission, supports the line. He has led the commission's attempt to take transmission siting authority from the CPUC in the last few years. As the staff report stands, the benefits are "rather heroic," noted Cazalet. Others questioned the report's omission of the cost of reliability-must-run contracts, which will still be needed to maintain reserves. Despite the questions, the project won the unanimous support of the grid operator board. Board member Elizabeth Lowe noted that it promotes green power to meet the state's renewables portfolio standard goals and lowers SDG&E rates over time. "My concern is that this is the easy part. [Now] there's planning, routing, and permitting," she said.