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Conservationists Oppose El Centro-to-San Diego Power Line Plan

San Diego Gas and Electric wants to build a 150-mile-long power line that would stretch from El Centro to San Diego. The state Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings to determine whether ther

Conservationists Oppose El Centro-to-San Diego Power Line Plan

San Diego Gas and Electric wants to build a 150-mile-long power line that would stretch from El Centro to San Diego. The state Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings to determine whether there's a need for the $1.3 billion project. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The hearings only include expert witnesses provided by SDG&E, other power agencies and groups against the proposal.

SDG&E's Chief Operating Officer Michael Niggli says the proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line is necessary to provide a reliable supply of power for the region.

Niggli : The current system is simply inadequate to handle the growing energy demands of our customers. In the past five years, our customer demand has increased by over a 1,000 megawatts.

Opponents of the project question the need for the power line, saying conservation, wind and solar power can help meet future energy needs. Others say the power lines will harm the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

More than 30 witnesses are scheduled to be questioned in a court-like cross-examination setting the rest of this month. The state PUC expects to make its decision in January.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.