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Supervisor Jacob accuses "so-called regulators" of "deliberately covering up the monumental fire danger posed by this line"

By Miriam Raftery


September 24, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) –The California Public Utilities Commission and the federal Bureau of Land Management have refused requests for additional environmental review from opponents of the controversial Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage transmission line.


Supervisor Diane Jacob, who represents the East County communities where Powerlink construction is planned, blasted the decision. This isn’t a review. It’s a rubber stamp,” she said. “In addition to ignoring glaring errors identified by the County, the so-called regulators have deliberately covered up the monumental fire danger posed by this line.”


She accused regulators of refusing to use accurate fire data, adding, “That’s appalling. In the end, nothing can change the determination made in the project’s original environmental document. It is a fact that Sunrise is classified as an unmitigable fire risk of the highest level. The line is a hazard to fire crews and will keep aerial assets from making targeted drops when fires are small. Knowing what we know about our fire-prone backcountry, it is unconscionable for anyone to support placing an impediment like Sunrise in the way of firefighters.”


New of the decision was revealed in a letter dated yesterday to San Diego Gas & Electric's Alan Colton, signed by Billie Blanchard, Sunrise Power Manager for the CPUC’s Energy Division CEQA unit. “The CPUC and BLM have completed our extensive review of the SDG&E Project Modification Report (PMR) submitted on May 14, 2010,” he wrote. “After review of the project modifications, as documented in the Determination Memorandum and the BLM Determination of NEPA Adequacy (attached) and in accordance with the CEQA and NEPA guidelines, the CPUC and BLM have determined that the changes to the Sunrise Project are within the scope of the CPCN and the Record of Decision. Along with this finding, the CPUC and BLM have determined that no additional CEQA or NEPA work is required.”  


Donna Tisdale, spokesperson for community groups fighting legal battles to halt the Powerlink, offered these comments upon learning of the decision last night. ““Our grassroots coalition of Backcountry Against Dumps, The Protect Our Communities Foundation, and East County Community Action Coalition, had expected this decision and planned accordingly,” she said. “We believe that the major changes in the PMR, and the inadequate underlying EIR/EIS that we have challenged in federal court, demand additional environmental review and public comment. We hope to secure that through our attorney.”

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Not to minimize practical/safety concerns, but even if the odds of a fire were (somehow) reduced to zero, the Powerlink would still be a hideous disfigurement of the landscape. So many of our beautiful East County wilderness areas have already succumbed development and congestion. What a crime it would be to sacrifice still more to these ghastly steel towers.

Craig, I agree with you 100% on this issue!

It seems like a desecration to me to put these towers in places like El Monte Valley/El Capitan Mountain.   The rooftop solar movement is gaining momentum; if as much time and money had been spent promoting that instead of ramming through the Powerlink, we could have some self-sustaining communities and minimize future need for powerlines.  I'm glad SDG&E is at least undergrounding them through downtown Alpine (due mainly to the school there,  I believe) but wish that some of the scenic view corridors could also be protected from visual blight, if this ultimately gets built.

Environmental accord!

Thank you, Miriam. And I'm with you! As a conservative who takes the root word of conservatism--"conserve"--seriously, I'm feel compelled to help fight to preserve our rapidly shrinking open spaces. Needless to say, this nearly always puts me at odds with my fellow cons. But it also leads to agreements and alliances with my more progressive friends.
And, yes--at the very least, the cables should be forced underground in the more visible/scenic areas

What those "cons" forget is that the first great conservationist

was Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican President who started the National Park System.  Richard Nixon, another Republican, signed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into law. 


Now the cons want to sell off, pave over, or turn our federal forests and parklands into giant energy corridors.  The Obama administration is enabling the latter, and that's an area where I vigorously disagree with Dems. While I support development of clean green alternative energy to a point, there's nothing progressive or green about despoiling these areas. 

Major Hurdles Still Ahead for Powerlink

This article and the heading implies that the Project Modification Report (PMR) was a major hurdle in this project, and the last one. That is VERY inaccurate and misleading. The PMR, which was approved by the CPUC, is just an approval to the most recent round of changes that SDG&E included in the project. The project STILL has lawsuits working their way through both federal and state courts, which is unaffected by this (expected) decision by the CPUC. The only real and meaningful hurdle will be in the courts, and that will be the FIRST time we are outside the realm of politics and in the realm of the Rule of Law.