Imperial Valley farmer Trevor Tagg drives by a large solar farm near land he owns.
Imperial Valley farmer Trevor Tagg drives by a large solar farm near land he owns on March 22, 2022. / MacKenzie Elmer

As a region, San Diego will need a lot of renewable energy to meet its long-term climate goals. But because of the cost of building large-scale solar projects close to the urban environment, officials are turning their gaze east.

A team of researchers hired by the county has suggested that one of the fastest and cheapest ways to make San Diego’s energy grid carbon free would be developing and delivering renewable energy sources from Imperial County.

Some infrastructure is already in place but, as MacKenzie Elmer writes, transmission lines have been compared to a “giant extension cord” that benefits the investor-owned SDG&E. The researchers concluded that rooftop solar, along with small solar parks on urban land, could meet San Diego’s energy demands, but might not be economically feasible.

In the meantime, there’s opposition coming out of Imperial County to build solar projects on productive farmland. “We’ve got millions of acres of perfectly suitable land in the desert,” one official said, but he also acknowledged that development on federal lands will encounter more red tape.

Elmer also notes that virtually none of San Diego’s decarbonizing gets done without help from the Jacumba area, but another project there is locked-up in a lawsuit. 

Read the entire story here. 

Oops!… Let’s Vote on it Again 

The city of San Diego could eliminate a few of the developers competing for a chance to redevelop the Sports Arena property, as Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts outlined in this week’s Politics Report, but that’s just the first in a series of crucial decisions coming down the pike for the tumultuous effort to rebuild the area.

Councilman Chris Cate is pushing the city to schedule a new vote this November to get rid of the coastal height limit in the area. That’s needed because the successful 2020 vote has been junked by a judge, who agreed with residents who sued and argued the city didn’t follow state environmental law ahead of that vote. But as Lewis and Keatts lay out, there’s reason to believe a vote in 2022, following the successful lawsuit, may not be as easy as the one in 2020, which passed comfortably.

Also, Jakob McWhinney has a dispatch from Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s visit to the Awaken Church in San Marcos, which has become a stop on the right-wing circuit after it refused to follow COVID-19 restrictions.

Over on the podcast: our hosts point to data showing San Diego’s population has been declining for three years thanks to outward migration. The downward trend suggests that the region is not the vibrant place that leaders like to portray it as, and it will have consequences for politics and policy long term. The hosts also zeroed in on Barrio Logan to talk about how the neighborhood has been grappling with truck exhaust. 

In Other News 

  • The CEO of a nonprofit serving low-income seniors argues that a modest subsidy for vulnerable people — already approved by the county — would make the difference between being housed and homeless.
  • In a new 20-minute documentary the Union-Tribune documents the challenges Barrio Logan residents have dealt with for years in their fight against polluting industries. It follows a key vote to update the community’s building blueprint and tensions between residents and businesses.
  • Several companies running warehouses in the Otay Mesa area have been ordered to pay $2 million in back wages to hundreds of workers — those who lived in Mexico were paid in pesos for work done in the U.S. (City News Service)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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