Agencies Approve Powerlink’s Smaller Footprint

By Published On: October 1, 2010

San Diego Gas & Electric’s plan to scale back its $2 billion Sunrise Powerlink line to reduce environment and landowner objections was accepted by state and federal agencies. In a September 22 memorandum, the California Public Utilities Commission and Bureau of Land Management stated the transmission project’s changes proposed last May do not require additional analysis because their impacts fall within the scope of existing environmental impact documentation. SDG&E’s high voltage project-related activities and modifications “have been thoroughly analyzed,” states the joint CPUC-BLM memo. It notes that permanent ground disturbance from the reduced project footprint--stretching from the Imperial Valley to San Diego--would decrease from 555 acres to 298 acres, and temporary land disturbances predicted to drop from 1,262 acres to 685 acres. The line is expected to transport new renewable power supplies from the desert and wind areas to urban centers. The changes include decreasing project length by two miles to 117 miles, cutting the number of access roads to 51 from 125, largely because the towers would be dropped in via helicopter in place of trucks, and reducing the number transmission project structures from 481 to 443, and the number of construction yards from 43 to 19. “These changes were made to comply with the [Environmental Impact Report and Statement] mitigation requirements for a post-route selection effort to reduce impacts to sensitive resources, reduce or eliminate engineering constraints, and accommodate landowner requests,” SDG&E spokesperson Jennifer Ramp stated. Legal appeals by consumer groups and environmentalists are pending in the State Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. The lawsuits were filed in August 2009, triggered by the CPUC’s 2008 decision to allow the project to proceed.

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