Construction on the Sunrise Powerlink—a $1.88-billion, 118-mile, 1,000-MW-capacity power line that would connect urban San Diego with alternative energy sources in the Imperial Valley—could begin in June if the U.S. Forest Service grants final approval. The owner, San Diego Gas and Electric Co., says the line is a key part of California’s mandated goal of deriving a third of its power from alternative sources by 2020.
SDG&E could expedite the decision by meeting two conditions based on environmental considerations: shifting right-of-way to a northern route to avoid crossing designated wilderness areas and completing some construction using helicopters to protect the ecologically fragile areas. SDG&E cleared two regulatory hurdles last year when the California Public Utilities Commission denied a rehearing request, and the Interior Board of Land Appeals denied a motion to halt construction. The line does not require Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, according to Jennifer Ramp, SDG&E spokeswoman.