When the U.S. Forest Service approved the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink project yesterday, it was the end of a long process of approval through state and federal agencies, and the beginning of yet another major step toward an environmentally responsible and clean-energy-abundant future for California ~ particularly San Diego and surrounding cities and towns in Imperial County.
The 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, when completed, will bring renewable energy, from solar and wind powered sources in the more remote areas in southern California’s Imperial Valley to the more densely populated areas of the San Diego region, while simultaneously increasing the reliability of southern California’s power grid.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reaction was a predictably enthusiastic one: “I applaud the U.S. Forest Service for approving this important project that will play a critical role in bringing clean, renewable electricity to the cities where people live and work and improving our power grid’s reliability. These are exactly the types of projects California needs to transition to a brighter clean-energy future.”
As the Governor also observed,”California has two dozen renewable energy projects looking to break ground this year alone that will create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in our state. But, many of these projects will be built in remote locations in the desert,” which of course necessitates a reliable method of conveying the electricity from where it is most easily supplied, via solar arrays and wind farms, to where the demand is highest. Enter the Sunrise Powerlink project ~ which, by the way, will be creating several hundred green jobs, itself, in the course of its construction and operation.
The green jobs the project will create are sorely needed in Imperial County, which has suffered a significantly higher rate of unemployment (an estimated 27%) than that of the rest of the state and most of the country, so the approval and the rapidly approaching start of construction is especially welcome.
Also welcome is the fact that of the $1.883 billion projected for building the Sunrise Powerlink, more than 1.7 billion (91%) will be spent right here in the United States, approximately $623 million of that going into wages for employees hired right there in Southern California and for the purchase of locally sold and/or manufactured materials. “In fact,” according to the SDG&E website, “the only foreign investment planned is for specialized steel, cable and certain other materials not available in the United States.”
The U.S. Forest Service’s decision is a momentous one inasmuch as it was the final stamp of approval San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) needed to begin construction of the Sunrise Powerlink project.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted its approval of the project in 2008, with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management following suit in early 2009. No surprise that the project would need the approval of these departments ~ but what, you may be asking, has the Forest Service to do with connecting renewable energy sources in the desert to the power grid that provides electricity to the cities and towns in Imperial County?
Good question. I was thinking the same thing. As it happens, the planned “route” for the power transmission line goes directly through 19 miles of U.S. Forest ~ which I read with an “ah ha” and no small satisfaction.
It’s nice ~ reassuring, in fact ~ to see that this green project is environmentally and economically sound through and through, as this part of the approval process “represent[s] the most comprehensive [environmental review] completed for a power line in California history,” according to an article on The Wall Street Journal’s marketwatch.com.
Good news for the environment, for employment in Southern California, and for the clean energy industry.
In fact, the news is good all the way around, this time ~ and that’s just the way I like it.
See you on the green ~
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