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There’s great news for fire protection advocates who are trying to get SDG&E to change the proposed route of the Sunrise Powerlink to miss the Cleveland National Forest. For no known calculated reliability or redundancy benefits, SDG&E plans to create new fire hazards in the Wildland Urban Interfaces (WUI) of McCain Valley, Lake Morena, Campo, Dulzura, Alpine, El Monte Valley and Lakeside. Luckily, this Saturday the U.S. Forest Service gave SDG&E notice that they are opening up their Environmental Review for public comments until June 29, 2010.

SDG&E’s permit request for the Sunrise Powerlink includes a 1,000-foot wide utility corridor through 19 miles of protected and pristine National Forest land. As seen on the Cleveland National Forest’s Sunrise Powerlink website, comments and public concerns can be emailed to with a subject line of “Sunrise Powerlink Comments” by June 29, 2010.

SDG&E’s 11,000 page Environmental Impact Report (EIR/EIS) approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (DOI:BLM) lacked evidence on the basic metrics such as costs, benefits, and risks of the planned 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink path which they named the “Environmentally Superior Southern Route.”

The fire hazards and fire models for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink route were never completed. Instead, portions of the Sunrise Powerlink route where analyzed in differing formats and using differing criteria so that comparisons between two or more alternatives could not be made.

The U.S. Forest Service states in their review of SDG&E’s Draft Project Modification Report, that SDG&E was comparing several environmental impacts to an EIR “record that does not exist.”

This is great news for Sunrise Powerlink proponents and detractors that have been telling SDG&E for the last 10 years that there is an easy and cheap solution that would give Sempra everything they want — lower fire risks — and would allow construction to start within 30 days of notice. The easy solution is collocation with the existing Southwest Powerlink (SWPL). Our plan of action is linked below.

Early on in the EIR/EIS process and without the public’s knowledge or CAL FIRE’s approval, SDG&E took collocation with Southwest Powerlink out of consideration as a possible alternative path based upon false assumptions regarding Native American lands and incorrect CAL FIRE Forrest and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) maps of historical fires.

Our plan (linked above) could be a win-win for all, if SDG&E shows some leadership and re-evaluates their previous choice of route based upon misinformation and bad raw data.

This is a great opportunity to start construction on the regional infrastructure project by choosing collocation with Southwest Powerlink and lowering fire risk and costs for all. All we have to do is get SDG&E and Sempra officials to listen to common sense.     

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