Regulatory hearings for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink resumed in earnest the day after Labor Day, with officials from San Diego Gas & Electric and other entities taking turns on the stand to explain the perceived need for SDG&E’s planned “energy superhighway.” The $1.3 billion project is in question as its value is being vetted in ongoing hearings at the California Public Utilities Commission. The utility claims building the 500 kV line from San Diego to the eastern desert border is necessary to bring in power expected to be developed in the desert. Critics maintain it’s overpriced, unnecessary, and runs through sensitive environmental areas. On September 4 and 5, San Diego Gas & Electric witness Jan Strack testified in depth about the project, why it’s needed and what it would accomplish. He was followed September 5 and 6 by California Independent System Operator official Armando Perez. Armando Perez, CAISO’s vice president of planning and infrastructure development, spent much of the week on the stand defending his agency’s endorsement of the project and deflecting speculation that the CAISO was in cahoots with SDG&E. “I won’t sell my life to the devil–especially at my age–to get a project approved,” Perez said at one point. The California Independent System Operator was scheduled to continue testimony on September 7, followed by the Utility Consumers’ Action Network later that day and possibly the next business day, September 10. Hearings over the proposed line were originally scheduled for July but were suspended while SDG&E corrected errors in its project application. The state’s decision whether to allow SDG&E to build the power line isn’t expected to come until late 2008. SDG&E contends the power line is needed to ensure the San Diego region will have enough electricity during peak demand in the years to come. Originally, SDG&E hoped to have the 130-mile line up and running sometime in 2010. But recent setbacks in the permitting process have made that unlikely.