Like any large project, the Sunrise Powerlink has its fair share of myths floating out there. Some raise legitimate questions, while others are simply wild accusations. Here are some of the myths I hear most, along with the facts to set the record straight.
- Building new, local power plants is a better option than the Sunrise Powerlink.
- New state laws mandating more renewable power and fewer greenhouse gas emissions mean SDG&E can’t continue relying exclusively on power plants that use fossil fuels. We need more renewable energy. The Sunrise Powerlink will connect San Diego to proposed solar, wind and geothermal energy projects in the Imperial Valley area and help California meet its clean-energy goals.
- If solar panels were put on enough rooftops, we wouldn’t need the Sunrise Powerlink.
- Rooftop solar will play a critical role in San Diego’s future, but it’s not enough to meet our customers’ energy needs. To match the Sunrise Powerlink, you’d have to install 2,000 megawatts of solar panels on 855,000 residential rooftops at a cost of $21 billion.
- The Sunrise Powerlink was proposed to connect power plants in Mexicali, Mexico to consumers in Los Angeles.
- The two power plants in Mexicali are already delivering power to California using existing transmission lines. These power plants don’t need the Sunrise Powerlink. Also, the Sunrise Powerlink terminates in San Diego, not Los Angeles.
- The Sunrise Powerlink will impact “designated wilderness” areas of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
- SDG&E has redesigned the line to stay within the existing transmission corridor in the desert where a power line has been strung for over 80 years. This option would result in zero impacts to “designated wilderness” areas. Tower heights on the Sunrise Powerlink also were reduced from an average of 135 feet to 99 feet.
- SDG&E can meet the state’s 20 percent by 2010 renewable energy mandate without the Sunrise Powerlink.
- Not true. There’s simply not enough local renewable power available and little room on existing transmission lines to import green supplies from outside the region. To meet the mandate, new transmission lines to renewable-rich regions like the Imperial Valley area are needed. The California Energy Commission agrees.
- Why not just use the existing Southwest Powerlink to deliver renewable power from Imperial Valley?
- About 300 megawatts of renewable power could be delivered to San Diego via the Southwest Powerlink, but that’s not nearly enough to meet state requirements. The Sunrise Powerlink will provide access to 1,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal energy.
- SDG&E withheld crucial information and changed its story on the Sunrise Powerlink, forcing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to delay release of the environmental studies by five months.
- As it turns out, most of the “new” information the CPUC said it needed to study isn’t new at all. In fact, much of it had been considered by the CPUC and is already in the official record and CPUC public documents. In a recent filing with the CPUC, SDG&E provided evidence that the delay is not warranted or needed. The CPUC has all the data it needs to release the draft environmental studies now.
— MIKE NIGGLI