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Sunrise Powerlink Delayed Again

The proposed Sunrise Power link project is on hold for at least six months. That's the 150 mile power line SDG&E wants to build from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. Critics say the ruling from the s

The proposed Sunrise Power link project is on hold for at least six months.
That's the 150 mile power line SDG&E wants to build from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. Critics say the ruling from the state utility commission is a setback for the proposal. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The ruling means the draft environmental impact report for the project is postponed six months. San Diego Gas and Electric says the delay could mean the project would not be finished by 2010. That's when the utility says the Powerlink is needed to ensure reliable electricity for San Diego. David Hogan with the Center for Biological Diversity says there's more to the ruling than a delay.

Hogan: The decision is full of information which fundamentally condemns SDG-and-E's rational for the entire project. And that's why this ruling is so significant."

The ruling says pushing the project back six months won't matter because there are other power options to keep the lights on in San Diego in 2010. Stephanie Donovan with SDG&E says company forecasts show there will be a shortage of electricity supply then. She says ensuring a steady supply without the Powerlink is possible.

Donovan: But we would have to then put band-aids on the system by adding additional peaking units which are our smaller power plants that we can use to kind of fill in the gap until the project can be brought on line.

The utility hasn't decided whether to appeal the ruling. If the ruling stands, it could mean a final decision on the project wouldn't come until next June. Critics say the proposed 150-mile-long Powerlink is not needed and will harm sensitive areas such as the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.