A California Public Utilities Commission prehearing conference on the proposed Sunrise PowerLink transmission line attracted roughly 400 area residents and stakeholders. For the most part, the January 31 crowd in the tiny Ramona Senior Center was opposed to building the new line. "So far, the proposal has generated tremendous fear and a lot of anxiety," said Diane Jacob, the member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors who represents the area that would be most affected by an installed transmission line. "Based on what I know now, I stand opposed to the project and the [approval] process." The prehearing conference was called to determine procedural matters. More substantive issues, such as the need for the transmission line and its route, are expected to be discussed at subsequent hearings. Prehearing conferences are usually held at CPUC headquarters in San Francisco. However, commissioner Dian Grueneich and administrative law judge Kim Malcolm held the initial meeting in San Diego County to allow residents to take part in the proceeding because of the interest in the Sunrise PowerLink. The proposed 120-mile, 500 kV power line would cost $1 billion to $1.4 billion. It would stretch about 120 miles from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. SDG&E filed a formal application for certificate of public necessity with the CPUC on December 14, 2005. Currently, there are three potential routes under consideration by SDG&E that would affect Ramona and other northeastern San Diego County towns, as well as the Anza-Borrego State Park. Among the dozens of speakers against the project were representatives from the Ramona Alliance Against the Sunrise PowerLink, a grassroots organization formed about a week before the Ramona hearing, as well as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Utility Consumers' Action Network. "They're trying to rush this thing through," UCAN's Michael Shames said of SDG&E. "We strongly urge that this application not go through." Ramona resident Don Russell was one of the few attendees to say he was neither for nor against the project. But he did say that a new power line was inevitable. "As long as we keep creating new people, and I assume that we're going to continue doing that, we're going to have a need for more electricity," he said. Although community members and SDG&E alike encouraged the CPUC to hold additional hearings and meetings on the project in San Diego County, rather than the usual San Francisco site, there has been no indication that this will occur.