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Wednesday, March 21, 2007 | It was a historic moment March 14th when the San Diego Port Commission voted to foreclose on plans to develop a new power plant on Chula Vista’s bay front and ignite a golden age for South Bay that will no doubt create economic development opportunities and new open space areas.

The power plant has been a defining fixture in the South Bay for nearly a half-century.  It’s high time that the waterfront, our most valuable natural asset, undergo a facelift. The port’s decision raises an important question: How do you replace the energy generated by the South Bay power plant, which is required by the state to keep running in order to provide reliable energy to the power grid?

State regulators have made it clear: The South Bay Power Plant cannot be torn down until this question is answered, in reality it already has. San Diego Gas & Electric’s planned Sunrise Powerlink a 150-mile transmission line would deliver 1,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to the San Diego region. The Sunrise Powerlink will help replace the plant’s polluting power with clean, green energy and without any impacts to waterfront property.

Energy experts say a combination of new power plants and new transmission lines are needed to make sure that the San Diego region has a balanced and reliable electricity supply for decades to come. The California Energy Commission and California Independent System Operator manage the statewide energy grid. These agencies ultimately determine when the existing plant can be torn down. They both strongly support the Sunrise Powerlink.

It’s critical that the South Bay speak with one voice on the need for the Sunrise Powerlink as a solution to the problem of removing the aging power plant from the waterfront. 

The South Bay community is fortunate to have more than 550 acres of beautiful bay-front land. Common sense tells us this natural asset has unlimited potential. Making the most of that potential will require us to work cooperatively with local leaders and state regulators to see that the first steps are accomplished. We must join together and support the Sunrise Powerlink to help clean up our air and bay front.

Lisa Cohen is the CEO of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. Agree? Disagree? Send a letter to the editor.

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