SDG&E starts construction of Sunrise Powerlink transmission line

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San Diego, December 10, 2010 — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Diego Gas and Electric’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jessie J. Knight, Jr., and others launched the official start of construction of the utility’s $1.8 billion, 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

Construction on the underground portion of the new power line, which will increase the reliability of the power grid and transport renewable wind, solar and geothermal energy to San Diego, started this week in Alpine, Calif.

When completed in 2012, the 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink electric superhighway will have the capacity to carry at least 1,000 MW of clean power, or enough energy to power about 650,000 homes.

As a key supporter of the project, Gov. Schwarzenegger hailed the Sunrise Powerlink as an important factor in the state’s economic recovery by helping to advance the region’s renewable energy industry.

“The construction of the Sunrise Powerlink is a huge win for the people of California,” Schwarzenegger said. “This transmission line opens the door for additional green investments and job creation in the Imperial Valley, while helping us meet our renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and improving the reliability of our power grid. It is these types of big, bold projects California needs to transition to a clean energy future.”

On Nov. 23, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a “notice to proceed” to SDG&E, clearing the way for the utility to begin construction on the underground section of the transmission line in Alpine.

On Nov. 30, crews started preparing the 6.2-mile stretch of Alpine Boulevard for construction of the underground facilities. SDG&E has conducted extensive outreach in the Alpine community, and plans to minimize disruptions during construction by maintaining access to all businesses along Alpine Boulevard.

The project’s rigorous, five-year environmental review and permitting process included approvals by the CPUC in late 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in early 2009, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s United States Forest Service earlier this year.

“The Sunrise Powerlink is a key element in strengthening California’s clean electricity infrastructure,” said CPUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. “It will provide the transmission backbone to deliver the renewable energy now under development in the Imperial Valley, while bringing green-collar jobs to the greater region.”

The new transmission line will transport power from the abundant renewable energy resources within California’s Imperial Valley to electricity customers in San Diego.

In the past six months, SDG&E has signed several contracts with developers for more than 300 MW of solar energy from Imperial Valley. These projects are expected to provide hundreds of new construction jobs in that community.

The transmission line project’s environmental review process was a collaborative effort involving SDG&E, USFS, BLM, CPUC and other federal, state, and local agencies. This process led to several modifications that will substantially reduce the project’s environmental impacts, including preserving sensitive areas within the Cleveland National Forest.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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