Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007 | In response to SDG&E COO Mike Niggli’s statements about Sunrise Powerlink, several of his claims have been called into question, most recently by California Public Utilities Commissioner Dian Grueneich.

In terms of grid reliability, Mr. Niggli comments: “By 2010, SDG&E customers will use more energy than the existing system is capable of delivering reliably.”

In fact, in her recent ruling to delay the proceedings due to SDG&E errors, Commissioner Grueneich notes SDG&E can maintain system reliability without Sunrise. She cites testimony from the California Independent System Operator, Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN) and California Public Utilities’ Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA).Both UCAN and DRA advocate on behalf of consumers.

In terms of renewable energy, Mr. Niggli comments: “The old utility model of relying solely on fossil fuels for power generation is over.”

This is ironic, considering Jim Avery, senior vice president of SDG&E recent testimony that there is no guarantee energy carried on Sunrise would be from renewables and at times Sunrise would carry fossil fuel energy.

SDG&E claim for renewables is based largely upon a contract for experimental solar technology that has never proven commercially viable. The technology’s unreliability has been documented by Dr. Barry Butler, former vice president and manager of SAIC’s Solar Energy Products Division. The implication follows that if the line is built, but the “renewable” aspect of the project fails, fossil fuel energy will replace it.

In terms of state clean energy mandates (Renewables Portfolio Standard or RPS), Commissioner Grueneich concludes in the same July ruling referenced above, “Thus, according to SDG&E’s own testimony, extending the schedule in this proceeding will not cause SDG&E to run afoul of the RPS requirements.”

Before San Diegans are forced to invest their energy dollars into a fossil-fuel project like Sunrise, they should be able to weigh their options. There are respected members of San Diego’s energy community who maintain there is a better way. Our communities, wallets and protected parks and wilderness areas deserve better.

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