The first People’s Reporter question to get answered comes from Paul in Encinitas. Paul asks: “SDG&E says they need the Sunrise line to meet future electricity demand, so why do they also say that they are not interested in buying electricity from either the current or a newly-built South Bay power plant?”

The reason this is the first answered is that I only had to turn to the man sitting next to me, Rob Davis, for the response. Here it is:

Good question. A couple of reasons here.

1. SDG&E justifies the Sunrise link by saying it will tap into renewable energy sources that it has contracted to build in Imperial County. That helps fulfill a state requirement that 20 percent of its power be from renewable sources by 2010. The South Bay plant and its replacement are fossil-fuel fired (natural gas.) The company has a new 550-megawatt plant in Escondido and an option to buy another that will be built in Otay Mesa, which it says will sufficiently meet its every-day needs.

2. Plan B if Sunrise doesn’t get built, SDG&E says, is to build smaller peak-demand plants throughout the region. That’s the type of power the company says it wants — the power that meets demand on hot days, not the power that meets every-day demand. A peak-demand power plant is less efficient than a base-demand plant, but operates more infrequently.

The environmentalist group fighting the plant, Environmental Health Coalition, says it’s aware that it’s threading a needle in its opposition to building a replacement plant in the South Bay. It knows SDG&E needs enough new power to remove the state reliability label that keeps the current South Bay plant operating. But it’s also opposed to the Sunrise plan.

Keep the questions coming. We’ve got some good irons in the fire right now.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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