Powerlink revelations spark outrage in Alpine

ARTICLE SOURCE: East County Magazine

January 17, 2009 (Alpine) San Diego Gas and Electric’s current proposal for Sunrise Powerlink, including undergrounding high-voltage power lines along Alpine Boulevard, was not well received by 400-plus people at a meeting on January 14th. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob convened the meeting to show the community information left out of the latest report submitted by SDG&E to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in Sacramento.

Jacob said her number one goal is to stop the project. Ultimately she believes the courts will decide the fate of Powerlink; multiple lawsuits seek to halt the project by challenging approvals by the PUC and by the federal Bureau of Land Management. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service has not yet granted approval for Powerlink construction through the Cleveland National Forest. If the project does get built, Jacob said she would fight to do as much as possible to minimize the negative impact this project would have on the community.

At the start of the meeting, just two people raised hands indicating they were for the project, 25 people remained undecided, and the vast majority were against it. That was before County staff presented evidence that construction would use massive amounts of water, create serious traffic delays and disruption to local businesses for up to two years, among other impacts. (SDG&E was slated to submit new documents to the PUC on Friday; ECM is requesting a copy and will post it when obtained.)

“This project will require millions of gallons of water. Most will come from groundwater dependent areas,” said Eric Gibson from the Department of Planning and Land Use.

Many community members stood up to voice their concerns about impacts of the project. Responding on behalf of SDG&E were Linda McDonald and Jose Lopez, an expert on undergrounding.

A presentation by County staff cited information pertinent to the decision-making process in Sacramento that was left out of the report given to the PUC by SDG&E. Major regional impacts presented include fire safety, groundwater resources, biological resources, multiple species conservation plan (MSCP) lands, and additional access in the backcountry that could introduce unauthorized or illegal activities.

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