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Costs And Benefits Of Sunrise Powerlink Vary By Community

Audio

Aired 5/5/10

SDG&E will begin a series of community meetings this week to update residents on the latest plans for the Sunrise Powerlink project. We speak to a representative from SDG&E, and to two people who represent communities along the proposed path, about the impact the 120-mile transmission line could have on their area.

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Approved Route for Sunrise Powerlink

Approved Route for Sunrise Powerlink

A map of the approved route for the ...

In this illustration by saveelmontevalley.com, towers are digitally added to simulate the route of the Sunrise Powerlink near El Cajon Mountain.
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Above: In this illustration by saveelmontevalley.com, towers are digitally added to simulate the route of the Sunrise Powerlink near El Cajon Mountain.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. If San Diego Gas & Electric thought state approval of a southern route for the Sunrise Powerlink was a slam dunk for the project, the company was apparently mistaken. Late last month, Congressman Bob Filner formally requested the U.S. Interior Department conduct a new environmental review of the project. And there's a growing movement in San Diego's East County to stop the 120-mile transmission line from passing through the Cleveland National Forest and El Monte Valley in Lakeside. But on the other side of the coin, residents of Imperial Valley are anxiously waiting for the Sunrise Powerlink to transmit renewable power and create much-needed jobs. Joining me to talk about the controversy over the new route of the Sunrise Powerlink are my guests. Laura Cyphert is co-founder of the East County Community Action Coalition, and a member of the Save El Monte Valley group. And, Laura, good morning.

LAURA CYPHERT (Co-Founder, East County Community Action Coalition): Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Andy Horne is an Imperial Valley resident who serves on the Sunrise Powerlink Imperial Valley Community Council. Andy is also deputy county executive officer for Natural Resources Development at the County of Imperial. Andy, good morning.

ANDY HORNE (Deputy County Executive Officer, Natural Resources Development, County of Imperial): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now first, here with an overview of the Sunrise Powerlink project, I’d like to welcome Laura McDonald. She’s Director of Public Affairs and Project Communication for the Sunrise Powerlink project. Good morning, Laura.

LAURA MCDONALD (Director, Public Affairs and Project Communications, San Diego Gas & Electric): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Can you briefly remind our listeners what the Sunrise Powerlink project is and what it could bring to the region?

MCDONALD: Absolutely. The Sunrise Powerlink, first proposed almost six years ago, is a, as you mentioned, 120-mile major electric transmission line that will run from the Imperial Valley into the San Diego region. And it has enormous benefits for the – not only the San Diego region but California and the nation as a whole. It will, first, add much needed reliability to our electric system here in San Diego. You know, one thing I – many of our customers and the folks in San Diego don’t know is that 25 years ago, San Diego Gas & Electric built its one and only major electric transmission line and, you know, 25 years later, San Diego’s grown and it was certainly time for SDG&E to look at adding a second major transmission line to our region, and it has the added benefits of bringing in 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy from the Imperial Valley. And, as many of us know, the Imperial Valley is rich with natural resources, solar, wind, geothermal, and we have the ability to do both, add reliability and bring much needed renewable energy into the region.

CAVANAUGH: Now the proposed route for the Sunrise Powerlink was changed within the last year or so. Why was the proposed route changed from the northern to the southern route that we’re talking about now?

MCDONALD: Well, originally, after many, many, many months if not years of working with community groups, the environmental community and others in a very open and transparent community process, SDG&E had first proposed a northern route, and that was done with the input of many folks throughout San Diego County. And – But at the same time, Maureen, southern routes were studied from the very beginning of the Sunrise Powerlink process. SDG&E studied southern routes as part of its process and – but ultimately went with what we thought was a route that made sense, and that was the northern route. During the process, the California Public Utilities Commission asked SDG&E to go back and restudy southern routes. And in the end, when the Public Utilities Commission approved the project back in December of 2008, they chose what we now have today as the southern route. And we’ve been working very closely with the community groups and folks throughout the southern route to, you know, make sure that we can lessen the impacts of the Sunrise Powerlink on them but we recognize that there are issues but we need the Sunrise Powerlink in San Diego and that means, in this case, we need to make the southern route work.

CAVANAUGH: Well, since SDG&E’s favorite route for this Sunrise Powerlink was actually the northern route, the PUC, from my understanding, said that it’s the southern route or nothing. There was a lot of work that went into preparing environmental impact reports for this northern route but the one that is now being chosen along Interstate 8 and through the Cleveland National Forest and the El Monte Valley, wouldn’t it be a good idea to maybe do some more environmental impact studies on that particular route?

MCDONALD: No. You know what, Maureen, we believe that the southern route was studied and, you know, we have an 11,000 page EIR, the largest EIR in California history. The southern routes were studied. The Public Utilities Commission and the Bureau of Land Management both based their approval of the Sunrise Powerlink on that environmental document. Clearly, it has been studied. The U.S. Forest Service is now looking at it. We are anticipating a record of decision from the U.S. Forest Service. And it is time to put a shovel in the ground and get the Sunrise Powerlink built and put people to work in this county, in San Diego, and in Imperial County where they have a 27% unemployment rate, and have a really terrific added benefit of seeing renewable energy projects built in the Imperial Valley and have that renewable energy transmitted across the Sunrise Powerlink into our region. It’s been studied. There were over 50 community meetings held between the Public Utilities Commission, the BLM and San Diego Gas & Electric throughout this process. There were thousands of people who attended those meetings, provided comments on the EIR. It has been studied, studied and studied, and it is time to move forward and put a shovel in the ground on this project.

CAVANAUGH: I do want to talk a little bit about the community meetings that you have scheduled, though, about this new route, you know, the fact that it’s going to be going through Lakeside. Are there any of the community meetings scheduled in Lakeside?

MCDONALD: Well, you know, Maureen, we proactively set up community council meetings along the entire Sunrise Powerlink route from the Imperial Valley to the Scripps Ranch area. And Lakeside – in Lakeside, we’ve already held two community council meetings in Lakeside. We had a third one scheduled for a week ago. We were asked by the community to reschedule that meeting because it happened to fall in the same week that they were preparing for the Lakeside Rodeo. So at the request of the community, we cancelled that scheduled meeting. We put notices out, we let people know, and it’s been rescheduled. So Lakeside is clearly one of our community councils along with others. And, you know, the community outreach and communications has been a cornerstone of the Sunrise Powerlink project since we first proposed it almost six years ago. SDG&E’s had a very proactive community outreach and communications strategy. And, you know, just this week we launched in Alpine a door-to-door community effort where we had teams of folks out walking the streets of Alpine Boulevard meeting one-on-one with impacted business owners. We will be doing the same throughout the entire route. But it is our number one priority to communicate with and to be out there and answering all the questions and working with the communities impacted by the Sunrise Powerlink.

CAVANAUGH: Laura McDonald, thanks so much for talking with us this morning. I appreciate your taking the time out.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Laura McDonald is Director of Public Affairs and Project Communication for the Sunrise Powerlink project. I want to reintroduce my two other guests. Laura Cyphert, co-founder of the East County Community Action Coalition, and Save El Monte Valley group. And Andy Horne is from the Imperial Valley. He’s on the Sunrise Powerlink Imperial Valley Community Council. Laura, let me give you an opportunity to respond to anything that you’d like to that you just hear (sic) Laura McDonald tell us.

CYPHERT: Wow, where to begin? As you know, this project is very complicated and when you hear the public relations presentation of it, you know, it can sound really great on the surface. When I first learned about this project I actually wasn’t opposed to it, and it was only when I started to go into the details and the facts that I became very opposed to it. So I think that there’s been a definite trend in giving information that is true in part but doesn’t give the complete story. The one thing that I would really emphasize the most and what brought me into this process was the lack of community involvement. The whole time, during the six years that Laura McDonald was talking about, these extensive public outreach and community meetings, the whole time before it was approved, SDG&E was on record and in the media and the press saying that the southern route was not feasible. It was not an option, no way, no how. And it was only after the last chance for the public to participate in one of these community meetings with the CPUC that SDG&E came out and said after all it was feasible. It was in the news as a shocker for, you know, Powerlink shocker. And after that time, the CPUC actually fined SDG&E over $1.1 million for misleading them about the route. How can the CPUC be misled and the people of San Diego not? After that time, there was no further meetings in San Diego for the community to give feedback to the CPUC. This route, the south – the northern route, I believe, was thoroughly examined and considered to be not an environmentally sound route. The southern route was not, which is the basis for our lawsuits.

CAVANAUGH: And the CPUC is, of course, the California Public Utilities Commission. Andy, I want to give you the same opportunity to respond to Laura McDonald about what she said about the Sunrise Powerlink. Do you agree? Disagree? Comment?

HORNE: Well, I think a lot of the points that Laura raised are ones that we have been advocating in the interest of developing some of the renewable resources that we have down here in Imperial County. We’re the second largest geothermal power producing county in the nation right now, so we have a history of being able to get these projects built and online, and the biggest constraint we have right now to expanding that industry, which is a major contributor to economic activity here in the county, the geothermal industry is the largest taxpayer in the county and we would like to have the opportunity to increase the output of geothermal, solar, wind energy, and the biggest constraint we have is the lack of transmission capacity to move that energy to the load centers like up in the big cities where it’s going to be used. I mean, that just is a kind of a no-brainer. You have rail lines and freeways that have been built to move products. We have farm products here that have been moved for the last century to areas where they’re going to be consumed and we need that same infrastructure concept expanded to move the renewable products that we have to the markets. So, you know, I think when Laura, Laura Cyphert, says that the southern route was not adequately studied, I would disagree with that a little bit in the sense that, you know, we were down here, have the SDG&E, NCEC – or, CPUC had meetings down here and we actually, the County of Imperial, advocated for the southern route. It was extensively studied and commented upon by local people. The northern route, even though it might’ve had some advantages, had some impacts on agriculture and residences here in Imperial County, and our county disagreed with SDG&E’s preferred route and we’re generally happy that they selected that southern route.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

HORNE: And it was extensively studied during that timeframe.

CAVANAUGH: Laura Cyphert, let me ask you, besides – This is the only route that’s being considered right now. It goes through the Cleveland National Forest and it goes through El Monte Valley. What are your main concerns related to the Sunrise Powerlink?

CYPHERT: There are many, many concerns but I would say that one of the biggest concerns that’s shared by my community, not just in Lakeside but in Alpine and for the Cleveland National Forest and Campo and beyond, is that the environmental impact report identifies this as a class one unmitigable significant fire risk to San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: What does that mean?

CYPHERT: A class one is the highest risk that project can have, and it means that there’s nothing you can do to mitigate that risk. You’ll often hear SDG&E telling people that, no, we’ve looked at the fire issue and we’ve addressed it. Well, the environment impact report says it’s not mitigable. Firefighters have told me that it’s not mitigable. What it’s going to do is to go through the most fire prone areas of our county without even adequate study of that area and it’s going to benefit Imperial County but it’s going to bring San Diego firestorms. The Cedar Fire alone has been estimated to cost us $3 billion by the San Diego Business Journal. So there are unintended consequences when things aren’t adequately studied.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Laura, in some of the information I’ve read on your group, I’ve read that one of the big things that you have against the project is that it runs right in front of El Capitan Mountain. Tell us why that is such a dealbreaker for you.

CYPHERT: It’s a huge dealbreaker. Imagine having a community, whatever community you live, imagine the landmark that your community has named its high school after, that they rally behind, that is significant to the whole community, not just the neighborhood but the entire community, and having a planning group that has no idea that someone is talking about putting an industrial 300-foot energy corridor right directly in front of El Capitan, skylining the mountain, in our only designated scenic corridor without any public input. That area is an area that means so much to our entire community, which is why we’ve rallied so much support from across all of Lakeside. There are a lot of people who feel as though we’ve just completely bypassed – and, again, the Lakeside Planning Group did not know about this route until after it was approved.

CAVANAUGH: Andy, I want to ask you, what would be the problem from your end in having a new environmental impact report done about moving the transmission lines in this new direction? Is it the fact that it’s just going to take more time and the Imperial Valley needs the jobs?

HORNE: Well, that’s pretty much it. I mean, obviously jobs, in and of themselves, even though they’re very important, you know, should be weighed with the evaluation with all the environmental considerations. But our feeling is that, you know, the five – approximately five years that this project has been studied and evaluated has been adequate. And, you know, we, like I say, we would never advocate for, you know, just building the thing just because we need the jobs without looking at all the environmental impacts but this thing has – this project has been studied and we do have projects that are waiting. We have two large projects right now that are, I would say, somewhat in jeopardy. This would be probably, oh, the two of them each would be approximately a billion dollars and so you have a $2 billion investment in the Tessera Solar project down here, which is 750 megawatts of solar power and the Pattern Energy Wind project, which is about 500 megawatts of wind energy, both of which are banking on and waiting for the final approval and construction of this line before they can get their projects going.

CAVANAUGH: I want…

HORNE: If it was a matter of, you know, yeah, we can wait another year, that’s great. But why? I mean, we have – you’ve got the go-through, you know, Laura raised this issue of the fire danger, and I have a home, a vacation home, up in Boulevard that’s less than a mile away from the Sunrise Powerlink route. Fires are, you know, we’ve been through those fires that the – in ’03 and ’07, must like everybody else in East County and it was a major problem. But I don’t think there’s ever been a fire that’s been traced back to a high voltage transmission line or at least a very, very slim likelihood that that powerline, it does create problems in terms of, you know, fighting fires in the area underneath the lines but – and flying helicopters, I guess. I’ve heard that. But causing fires, these lines, these types of lines do not cause, according to the studies, and I’ve read that section because I have a vested interest in making sure that that thing doesn’t…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

HORNE: …doesn’t impact me up there in my house in Boulevard and the – there is no evidence that those types of lines cause forest fires.

CAVANAUGH: So are you making a distinction between transmission lines and powerlines because I think down to…

HORNE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think SDG&E is already on the hook – they’ve traced back the cause of, I can’t remember if it was one of those fires, the Cedar or…

CAVANAUGH: The 2007…

HORNE: …one of the other ones, to a faulty distribution line…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

HORNE: …that was blown over and sparked and caused a fire and they’re going to have to pay through the nose for that. But the Southwest Powerlink, which goes across more or less that same route, has never caused a fire and I don’t think any large transmission lines – and they’re built differently. They’re further away from the ground, they’re higher up in the air, they’re built on steel towers instead of wood poles that have, you know, more likelihood of being impacted by a high wind event that would cause a fire. These lines do not cause fires.

CAVANAUGH: Laura, let me ask you, is there any area along this route that is – where the transmission lines are going to be built underground or is there any option for that?

CYPHERT: You know, there is one area that is to be underground and that’s through Alpine Boulevard. But just on the issue of the transmission lines and the fire risk, we’re in no disagreement there and SDG&E often brings that up as a point but those are not the issues that are concerning about fire. It’s the inability to fight fires in these fire prone areas. To your question about undergrounding and it being an option, I don’t believe that these options were thoroughly examined. I can tell you that SDG&E did tell us that they looked at old Highway 80 in Lakeside as an alternative route and determined that there was historic concrete underneath the asphalt and that was the reason that that was not an option.

CAVANAUGH: I see. Okay, so what are – Tell us about the lawsuit that your group is joining. What exactly are you suing for? What’s the goal?

CYPHERT: Our lawsuit, which is jointly with the Protect Our Communities Foundation and Backcountry Against the Dumps is against the BLM record of decision and…

CAVANAUGH: The Bureau of Land Management.

CYPHERT: The Bureau of Land Management record of decision. That was the decision that was after the CPUC did their approval in December and then the BLM in January. It is based on the fact that they did not complete the required environmental review required under the law. And one thing about them, you know, bypassing our community is they didn’t really – they did most of their review, desk review, limited boots on the ground, that’s how we didn’t really learn about it. That also means that they missed huge sections of the route that they just did not evaluate. So we have a very strong case.

CAVANAUGH: I’m wondering, Andy, you were very eloquent in outlining, you know, why you feel so strongly that the Sunrise Powerlink is needed and how it would help Imperial Valley. Do you see any meeting of the minds here? Is there any way that you can see this Powerlink going through and everybody sort of being okay with it?

HORNE: Well, you know, I remember hearing something about Al Gore talking about an inconvenient truth where you talk about global warming and climate change. And building a high voltage transmission line is an inconvenience, there is no two ways about it. There’s visual impacts, there are, you know, real on-the-ground environmental impacts, but we, as a society, have to make a decision. And I thought the decision had already been made. We’re going to move to a greener, cleaner energy future with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and less reliance on imported energy sources. And that, I think, is a major goal that we, as a nation and a society, have to decide that we’re going to abide by and follow through and accomplish. And if we don’t have these transmission lines, as inconvenient as they might be, we’re never going to get there because the energy is going to be generated, is not going to be – you know, geothermal only occurs in areas where you have, you know, faults in the earth, and we know about those faults because of the earthquake we had a month ago.

CAVANAUGH: Absolutely.

HORNE: And this is where the energy is. And we have solar energy down here in spades. And so we have to have these transmission lines if we, as a country and as a society, are going to make our goals and objectives become a reality. And we have to have this infrastructure just as we have built other infrastructure to develop our society and to develop our economy. This is critical. And we have some transmission lines now. We know how to build them, we know how to operate them, we know how to mitigate the impacts, and we need to move forward with this one.

CAVANAUGH: Laura, you’re working so hard on this Save El Monte Valley group and the East County Community Action Coalition, do you believe that SDG&E will, indeed, reschedule a community meeting in Lakeside? And in that case, what’s that going to be like?

CYPHERT: I do believe that because of public pressure that they will reschedule that meeting. We have asked them to come back and tell us how exactly they’re going to fight fires in El Monte Valley. That’s the topic we requested back in January, so we’ve been waiting quite a long time to have this additional meeting. I do feel, very important for me to say that I don’t consider this to be an inconvenient truth. Their Smart Energy Plan 2020, which clearly lays out how San Diego can become a renewable energy city with in-basin, local generation of power, that was a study that was sponsored by the San Diego Foundation and transmission lines are only needed when you’re transmitting from a great distance to a city. We have the ability now to produce more energy in basin. We don’t need the Sunrise Powerlink.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, well there you have it. I want to thank both my guests very much. Laura Cyphert, Andy Horne, thank you for speaking with us this morning. I appreciate it.

HORNE: Thank you, Maureen.

CYPHERT: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: And a thank you to SDG&E’s Laura McDonald who spoke to us earlier in the program. If you’d like to comment about anything you’ve heard this morning, go online, KPBS.org/thesedays. Coming up, we’ll talk about the success of San Diego’s Broadway Heights neighborhood. That’s as These Days continues here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'SuperLaw'

SuperLaw | May 5, 2010 at 9:27 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

SDG&E misleads the public how much renewal energy it will carry and the extent of study of the southern route. There is no requirement whatsoever the the Powerlink carry a single watt of renewal energy. It could carry 100% non-renewal power and increase the amount of green house gases that contribute to global warming.

As to the 11,000 page EIR, most of that EIR (and the subsequent debate) focused on the northern route. The southern route that was chosen was studied only as one alternative; it was not studied at a project level. Also, while they call it the I-8, it does not follow I-8: SDG&E refused to study a route went down I-8 that would have avoided Cleveland National Forest and other areas of environmental sensitivity.

If the southern route is to be used, it should be studie at a project level to avoid harm to environmental and cultural resources. And, SDG&E should be required to carry some reasonable amount of renewable energy. UCAN has a suit pending in the California Supreme Court to challenge the EIR and to have these requirements imposed.

What's at stake for SDG&E is a $2 billion investment on which it is guaranteed an 11% annual return regardless of whether it carries renewal energy and irrespective of the environmental harm. Of course it wants to get shovels in the ground quickly: It wants to make money. Making money is not bad, but it should be done properly with a clear understanding of the environmental consequences.

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Avatar for user 'heteromeles'

heteromeles | May 5, 2010 at 9:36 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

There's a problem with Imperial Valley solar: water.

Solar arrays need to be washed every month, to get the dust off (according to the project proponents). The water used on the arrays evaporates, so it is lost to the system.

In the Imperial Valley, the only sources of water are the various rivers and one aquifer, all of which feed the Salton Sea.

As a reminder, in 2003, the state passed legislation to protect and restore the Salton Sea.

The simple question for solar developers is: where is that cleaning water coming from? Out of the New River? A well?

For years we've known that San Diego could get plenty of solar power if the city would make it easier to put panels on more roofs. Maybe it's time to think about that option again.

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Avatar for user 'SDListener99'

SDListener99 | May 5, 2010 at 9:38 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

A couple of quick comments. Many people including myself are fundamentally against this project as it is terribly outdated. The place to put solar power is on our own rooftops, not in East County. Handing 2B to SDG&E to let them buy solar simply does not make sense, we should be buying this power ourselves. One of the last comments in the broadcast touched on this -- the solar should be local. This is why SDG&E is rushing this through -- they can see the writing on the roof.

Also, Ms. McDonald was typical of SDG&E in making a statement and then disappearing, indeed the lack of any questions or callers is typical. SDG&E has been as opaque as possible on this matter and they enjoy support only from those people will directly profit from the SRPL, such as Mr. Horne.

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Avatar for user 'CalBoomer'

CalBoomer | May 5, 2010 at 10:18 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Andy Horne never heard of SDG&E starting fires ? Apparently he never heard the local TV, radio or newspaper coverage of SDG&E's admission that

they caused 160 fires in San Diego from 1998 to 2008 !

160 FIRES !

(Laura MacDonald) "It has been studied . . . for 5 years".

SDG&E had this idea long before the 2005.
They put a 10 foot diameter pipe through to Mexico in the early 1992 to fire their plant in Calexico explicitly to go around environmental regulations for the United States as well as in California.

No one talked about how this transmission line was never for San Diego in the first place. They- SDG&E - wanted this line to go through Borrego Springs to bring additional power to Riverside County. Oh yes, San Diego ratepayers would pay for it but it was always going into the Riverside grid ! !

Lastly, I have to bring up the cost of this project. Not just the cost of steel towers and cable, but what it costs to transmit electricity over this line. For every watt that lights a lamp in San Diego it will cost 4 watts (possibly more) to "get here" I am talking about what is called "Line Loss". Line loss is the electricity that never gets to your house due resistance in the cable as well as in heat. (Google it)

Line loss also impacts wind and solar from Imperial County as well. If San Diego wants better electricity coverage we - the San Diego populace, should be putting solar panels on our roofs first. Every house, apartment building and business should have panels on our roofs as there really is no loss when it is on your roof ! Then, if there is a need for more power to Riverside, they can put panels on their roofs or buy it from SDG&E and Mexico !

By the way, did I mention SDG&E ADMITTED to STARTING 1600 FIRES over the last 10 years. Am I wrong when I inquire where is the District Attorney of San Diego ? To my knowledge arson is a felony ! What I am reading is that anyone who "recklessly" starts a fire (including forest land) is guilty of a felony. (Penal Code 450 to 457)

When is someone going to hold SDG&E to task ?
Do they - SDG&E - have a license to slash and burn ?

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Avatar for user 'BigBrian'

BigBrian | May 5, 2010 at 10:35 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

What are the chances SDG&E will buy inexpensive dirty energy from sources in Mexico, and use the Powerlink lines to transport the dirty energy throughout Southern California?

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Avatar for user 'pwans'

pwans | May 6, 2010 at 9:15 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Maureen, I was disappointed to see that your show was ultimately about giving SDG&E the perfect media platform for which to deliver their newest public relations speech, rather than provide information regarding the controversy. The show allowed Laura McDonald, an SDG&E public relations spokesperson, to talk for 7 uninterrupted minutes about the power link, yet Laura Cyphert, an up and coming community leader opposed to the project, was not given the same opportunity. Not even close. SDG&E got to say everything they wanted to say, and Ms. Cyphert did not.

We've all heard SDG&E's public relations presentation, in one form or another , but what we haven't heard is what some leaders in our community have discovered after months and months of digging into the facts. Here was an opportunity to be better informed. We don't need to hear any more professionally crafted marketing campaigns from SDG&E, who stand to make millions of dollars in profit from the power link. We already know their position. What we need to know is.. WHY is there such strong opposition to the power link? What are the issues? What will be the short and long term adverse effects to our community? What have we not been told? What is the whole truth?

The ECCAC is the only group who has the answers to these questions. They are the only group who has gone beneath the surface of what SDG&E has presented to the public, in search of the whole truth. They know important facts that have been hidden or distorted, and the public should have the opportunity to hear those facts! If these groups are not given a fair media platform for which to share their discoveries, how will we ever know the whole truth? Your show would have been a great platform to disseminate those truths, unfortunately, due to the arrangement of the show, that very important opportunity was lost.

This show was specifically crafted to be about the growing movement to stop the power link; that it wasn't a "slam dunk." So, why wasn't the focus on the issues of what this opposition is all about? What I mostly heard was SDG&E singing their own praises, not details about the issues of the opposition.

It looked like today's show could have been a well-crafted media guise, politically engineered to support SDG&E. In other words, on the surface it looked like the show was going to highlight the efforts to stop the power link and present both sides of the story objectively, but in actuality, what it did was create a media gold mine for SDG&E to downplay the opposition and to make it look like the power link, and all of SDG&E's actions surrounding it, smelled like roses.

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Avatar for user 'pwans'

pwans | May 6, 2010 at 9:19 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Part 2...

The show did not give adequate air time to the real news, which is the information that the ECCAC had gathered, after months and months of research, and was prepared to share with the listening audience. This information includes facts that have been hidden or distorted about the project, misleading statements that have been made by power link advocates, and disturbing facts that SDG&E does not include in their PR campaign. Ms. Cyphert obviously had much more to say, but she was only given the opportunity to speak in disconnected bits and pieces, and was never provided with a platform to present an overall cohesive body of knowledge against the power link. That's the real news here.

I also want to point out that of the three guests you had on the show, two of them were speaking on behalf of the power link, and only one was against it, but you did not split the air time 50-50 between for and against. I know you cannot always control how much air time each speaker will get, but in this case, it turned out to be grossly in favor of the power link advocates. SDG&E was afforded 7 minutes of uninterrupted time at the top of the show, yet Ms. Cyphert was forced to run the field, quickly squeezing in a response to SDG&E's opening speech, stating one of the main issues, and then quickly trying to respond to Mr. Horne's on-going comments. If Ms. Cyphert had been given the opportunity to present a 5 to 7-minute speech covering her issues, or at least been given a larger window of time in which to speak, we might have had a better sense of why the ECCAC is desperately trying to stop the power link. By the end of the show, we are left without that valuable information because Ms. Cyphert was never given the opportunity to present it.

All in all, I thought the mechanics of the show was very distasteful ; inviting the East County community group to come share their concerns, on a radio show specifically about the movement to stop the power link, and then putting them at an unfair advantage.

I hope you will invite Laura Cyphert back so that we can really know what this opposition is all about. I'd like to hear what she has to say, uninterrupted, just like the 7-minute speech opportunity given to SDG&E. Please let our community leaders have an adequate platform to share their knowledge so that we, as a community, can be better informed. I want to know the whole story, the whole truth, not just what SDG&E, and other big monopolies, want us to believe. I am hopeful that radio shows like yours can help accomplish that. It just didn't happen today.

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Avatar for user 'SDJan'

SDJan | May 6, 2010 at 2:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

It is my understanding there are no leases in place for renewable energy. There is a plan in Baja just south of the border of Imperial County. There is a plant on the coast in Baja that is piping gas to that plant to create energy.
Now, where will that NON-RENEWABLE energy go?
If the taxpayers are funding this project for RENEWABLE energy (yes, it is federally funded), and SDG&E refuses to demonstrate or commit to running renewable energy on these lines, then why should the taxpayers support it or agree to it. If the ratepayers are then expected to pay more for it, then we need some transparency.
There was no EIR for this route (pure and simple). The towers will prevent fire protection -- fire agencies have stated that they cannot do aerial firefighting in this valley with thos towers. They will not put firefighters on the ground to fight fires without air support in this valley.
Most importantly, the arrogance and political power that is allowing SDG&E to ruin a beautiful valley, a national forrest, habitate for golden eagles (and now bald eagles in the area) without appropriate evaluation (I do not care how many years, it was not for this route), mitigation of the risks, and seriously considering alternatives without transparency, commitments to renewable energy or community input is mind boggling.
Does noone remember the SEMPRA and SDG&E causing our energy costs to soar through their machinations (the Governor does) and putting people out of business as a result? Where is the oversight here?
Maureen, time to give the other side time to give all the facts -- go out there, look at the valley and the dam and El Cap and the planned lines -- people need to know that this route will not just ruin a beautiful area, it will jeopardize lives and homes because it will make them indefensible.

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Avatar for user 'LauraPsi7'

LauraPsi7 | May 6, 2010 at 7:27 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

There needs to be another segment for us to hear more about the community perspective. We have heard enough from SDG&E and their well-oiled misleading propaganda campaign.

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Avatar for user 'brixsy'

brixsy | May 8, 2010 at 12:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't trust $DG&E to do this project right, they refuse to listen to people about routing concerns, try to greenwash it, and won't give an estimate on renewable %. I'm so sick of companies forcing their projects on people opposed to them!

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