SSRC applauds proposed ruling that would stop Valley-Rainbow transmission line project

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Oct. 23, 2002 — Southwest Riverside County residents and local officials are applauding a proposed decision issued Monday by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Michelle Cooke in the California Public Utilities Commission’s Valley-Rainbow Power Line proceeding.

The proposed ruling is considered a major victory for the grassroots organization Save Southwest Riverside County (SSRC), the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the cities of Temecula, Murrieta and Hemet. SSRC and others successfully argued during Commission hearings that the forecasted demand for electricity in San Diego does not warrant construction of the 31-mile Valley-Rainbow Power Line proposed by SDG&E to import power into San Diego through Southwest Riverside County.

Cooke agreed with SSRC’s economic evidence, saying that “… the proposed project does not provide sufficient economic benefits to justify approval of the project.”

Barbara Wilder, President of SSRC, the grassroots organization spearheading opposition to Valley-Rainbow, said, “This is a real victory for the residents of Southwest Riverside County. We are overjoyed at the ALJ’s proposed decision to reject the construction of a publicly funded and excessively expensive transmission line that would compromise our quality of life. We will remain vigilant, however, in our opposition to Valley-Rainbow until the PUC Commissioners sustain the ALJ’s proposed decision against the project.”

“We are delighted with this result,” said Temecula Mayor Ron Roberts. “Along with the cities of Murrieta and Hemet, we worked hard to make our case to the ALJ. Public participation in this process was one of the keys to our success in protecting our neighborhoods, our schools and the beauty and value of our wine country,” the Mayor added.

Murrieta Councilman Jack Van Haaster went on to say, “The ALJ did the right thing. The most prudent energy policy should make Californians less dependent on external sources of power. If SDG&E thought there would be a need for power, it should have begun the process of developing power plants to meet any future demand in San Diego.”

“This is the decision we were hoping for,” said Temecula Councilman Jeff Comerchero. “The burden to supply power to San Diego should not be placed on the shoulders of the residents of Southwest Riverside County. We hope the Commission will adopt the ALJ’s proposed decision.”

“We are pleased the ALJ, who conducted the hearings and knows this case inside and out, reached the same conclusion we did: the line is not needed and not justified,” said Marc Mihaly, an attorney representing SSRC. “It is clear from the ALJ’s decision that there is no demonstrable need for the Valley-Rainbow Line.”

“While this ruling is certainly a favorable one, our work is far from over. We need to keep working to ensure that the Commission adopts the ALJ’s proposed decision. All of our efforts should be concentrated on that very goal,” said Sandy Spooner, Vice President of SSRC.

Also circulated was an alternative proposed decision authored by Commissioner Henry Duque. In his proposal, Commissioner Duque questions if future energy needs in San Diego could be met without the Valley-Rainbow power line if the 510 megawatt Calpine power plant under construction at Otay Mesa does not become available to serve San Diego. In other respects, Commissioner Duque’s proposed alternative is very similar to the ALJ’s proposed decision.

The Commission is expected to consider the ALJ’s proposed decision as well as alternative proposed decisions at its November 21, 2002 meeting. If the ALJ’s proposed decision is adopted by a majority of the five PUC Commissioners, SDG&E’s application for construction of the Valley-Rainbow Project would be rejected and the proceedings before the Commission would conclude.

Source: Save Southwest Riverside County. Save Southwest Riverside County is an Unincorporated, Nonprofit Association registered with the State of California formed to defend the beauty, environment and people of Southwest Riverside County from SDG&E’s Valley-Rainbow Interconnect Project, a proposed 500 kilovolt, 31-mile electric transmission line. The line would impact the cities of Temecula, Murrieta and Hemet and threaten sacred sites of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians.

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