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Federal government deems So Cal power needs ‘critical’ (corrected)

San Diego Gas & Electric is welcoming a new report from the U.S. Energy Department that says Southern California's power needs are "critical." The federal government could step in to approve projects like the controversial Sunrise Powerlink, a proposed transmission line from Imperial County. KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps reports.(This story has been corrected from an earlier version)

The federal government says Southern California is a region the nation's economy depends on. The report identifies the Sunrise Powerlink as a proposed solution to energy congestion in the region. The project's opponents fear the federal government could be exerting unprecedented control over a local issue.

SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan says federal officials are reaffirming what some state agencies have already concluded.

Donovan: "The Department of Energy says it's not just a local issue, that it is an issue of critical, national importance. It is such an important issue related to the national economy that it is not going to stand on the sidelines and just watch."

The recently passed national energy policy allows federal regulators to step in if they believe the project is important enough. The California Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings on the project in September. For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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