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Sunrise Powerlink Clears Major Hurdle

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SGg0V6Si3Y

Video published July 16, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: How significant a milestone was the U.S. Forest Service approval for Sunrise Powerlink? We discuss next steps for the controversial electricity transmission line.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THIS WEEK, THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE APPROVED SAN DIEGO GAS AND ELECTRIC'S PLAN TO BUILD A PORTION OF 120-MILE SUNRISE POWER LINK TRANSMISSION LINE THROUGH THE CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST. KPBS ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTER ED JOYCE HAS BEEN COVERING THIS STORY. HE JOINS ME NOW WITH THE LATEST. ED, HOW SIGNATURE A MILESTONE --SIGNIFICANT A MILESTONE WAS THIS APPROVAL?

THFINGS A SIGNIFICANT A APPROVAL IN THAT IT'S THE THIRD AGENCY TO GIVE THE POWER COMPANY THE GO AHEAD, THE OKAY. OPPONENTS OF THE POWER LINK WOULD SUGGEST THAT THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE ROAD. THIS IS NOT THE FINAL APPROVAL, AND SOME OTHER THINGS ARE NEEDED. THEY WILL BE CHALLENGING THAT ALONG THE WAY.

THIS WAS FROM THE FOREST SERVICE.

IT'S FROM THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE. IT'S A PORTION OF THE LINE THAT GOES THROUGH THE CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST, ABOUT 19 MILES. AND THE FOREST SERVICE RULED THAT THEY COULD MITIGATE THE IMPACTS TO THE POWER LINK THROUGH THAT SECTION OF THE CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST.

BUT EXPLAIN IT TO ME. ISN'T THE CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST PUBLIC LAND? DOESN' T THE PUBLIC HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE A VOICE IN THIS?

THE PUBLIC DID HAVE A VOICE IN THIS. THIS IS PART OF SOME OF THE DOCUMENTATION, THE MAPS THAT THE PUBLIC HAD A CHANCE TO COMMENT ON AT VARIOUS MEETINGS AS WELL AS BY E-MAIL OR SNAIL MAIL OR IN PERSON. SO THE PUBLIC HAD A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS.

THE COMPANY HAS PUT FORTH A HUGE EFFORT FOR THIS POWER LINK. WHAT'S THE RATIONAL?

THEY SAY IT'S NEED ED FOR THE REGION'S RELIABILITY FOR THE ELECTRICITY GRID, AND IT'S NEEDED TO BRING ENERGY RESOURCES INTO THE SAN DIEGO REGION TO TAP INTO THE SOLAR, WIND POWER IN THE VALLEY. MANY OF THESE PROJECTS AREN'T THERE RIGHT NOW, AND MANY OF THE PROJECTS NEED MONEY TO FUND THOSE PROJECTS, AND THEY SAY THEY NEED THE SUNRISE POWER LINK TO DELIVER THE RENEWABLES. HOWEVER, IN THEIR APPLICATION TO THE CPU FOR THE POWER LINK, THE COMPANY NEEDED TO NOT GIVE A GUARANTEE THAT THEY WOULD USE THE TRANSMISSION LINE FOR-TO-DELIVER RENEWABLE ENERGY.

IS THAT PART OF THE OPPOSITION THAT PEOPLE DON'T REALLY TRUST THAT THEY NECESSARILY WILL USE THE LINE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY?

WELL, THERE'S A LOT OF OPPOSITION. A LOT OF DIFFERENT GROUPS IN THE EAST SAN DIEGO COUNTY INCLUDING THE PROTECT OUR COMMUNITIES FOUNDATION, AND THERE'S THE UTILITY CONSUMERS ACTION NETWORK, AND THEY SAY THAT THE POWER LINE IS NOT NEEDED. THERE ARE OTHER SOURCES OF ELECTRICITY FOR THE REGION IN THE COUNTY. AND THERE'S CONCERNS ABOUT FIRE RISK. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE STILL SMARTING FROM THE 2007 FIRES IN THE COUNTY. SOME OF THOSE ATTRIBUTED TO POWER LINES. THEY ARE NOT EXCITED ABOUT HAVING POWER LINES THAT MAY CREATE MORE FIRE RISK IN THE COUNTY.

THIS WAS A BIG STEP TOWARD --IN THE APPROVAL PROCESS, SO WHAT IS THE OPPOSITION DOING TO PREVENT THE POWER LINK FROM BEING BUILT AT THIS POINT?

WELL, THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT APPROVAL HAS BEEN CHALLENGED LEGALLY IN COURT. THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION APPROVAL HAS BEEN CHALLENGED IN COURT, AND THE OPPONENTS OF THE POWER LINK SAY THEY WILL BE FILING LEGAL CHALLENGES TO THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE DECISION TO APPROVE IT AS WELL.

SO IN A WORD, IS IT A DONE DEAL?

IT DEPENDS WHO YOU TALK TO. THE COMPANY IS MOVING AHEAD WITH CONSTRUCTION, HOWEVER, THEY STILL NEED A LOT OF DIFFERENT PERMITS FOR CONSTRUCTION ACCESS ROADS AND SO ON. THEY NEED TO BUY PROPERTY OR LEASE PROPERTY FOR THE LINE, AND THREL BE CHALLENGES THE MINUTE THEY START TO STRIKE DIRT. THERE WILL PROBABLY BE MORE CHALLENGES TO STOP THE CONSTRUCTION.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, ED.

NICE TO BE HERE, GLORIA.

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