Sunrise Powerlink

CPUC REPORT HIGHLIGHTS SAFETY CONCERNS OVER DROPPED POWERLINK TOWERS

 

“That SDG&E would break rules and rush to put a faulty helicopter in the air again is just unconscionable...I continue to question the CPUC's monitoring of the project and again call on CPUC commissioners and the governor's office to closely evaluate these troubling events.” - Supervisor Dianne Jacob

 

SDG&E to replace helicopter and submit plan for operations in congested areas

 

FAA and CPUC approval required before resuming operations after utility found in violation of notification procedures

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

June 16, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The FAA has suspended operations of the Erickson S-64F Sky Crane helicopter that twice dropped towers each weighing 16,400 pounds during hoist operations for SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink. A preliminary incident report released yesterday by California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) suggests a digital hook control system may be at fault. The agency also chastised SDG&E for violating requirements to keep regulators informed before returning the sky crane to service after the first accident.

FAA ISSUES STATEMENT ON SKY CRANE DROPPING POWERLINK TOWERS

 

June 16, 2011 (San Diego) The FAA has sent a written statement in response to an ECM inquiry for information on the two SDG&E Sunrise Powerlink towers dropped by a sky crane helicopter June 7 and June 10. The statement indicates a replacement helicopter has arrived in San Diego and will undergo tests Monday in Imperial County.

 

The FAA also indicates sky cranes are not certified to fly over occupied populated areas when carrying heavy loads.  The spokesman, Ian Gregor, later clarified in an e-mail that "a lift could occur over a populated area if that were absolutely necessary. However, nobody unessential to the operation could be on the ground below while the lift took place, and the lift could not take place directly over homes."

 

Below is the statement in full received this afternoon from Gregor, public information manager at the FAA Pacific Division:

WITNESS SAYS SDG&E TRIED TO HIDE EVIDENCE OF FALLEN POWERLINK TOWER & INTIMIDATED PHOTOGRAPHER



Supervisor Jacob seeks records on “investigation” by CPUC

By Miriam Raftery

Video by Jim Pelley

 

June 12, 2011 (Imperial Valley) – Jim Pelley, an Ocotillo resident, was taking his son to school on June 7th when he passed by a Sunrise Powerlink construction project where a tower was on the ground in preparation to be lifted into place. “There was nobody directing traffic,” he told ECM in an exclusive interview, adding that his wife took photos on her cell phone.



About half an hour later, while driving back on the same road, he and his wife came upon the scene of a crash where SDG&E’s sky crane helicopter had inexplicably dropped a 15,000 pound tower. Pelley started shooting photos. “One of the guys said `Hey, we’d appreciate if you wouldn’t take pictures until we clean this mess up,” he recalled.  When he refused to comply, Pelley said the employee held a hand up in front of his camera lens. “So I started shooting video,” he told ECM.

 

POWERLINK OPPOSITION LEADER TO SPEAK JUNE 16 IN EL CAJON

June 15, 2011 (El Cajon) – Laura Cyphert, a Cedar Fire survivor who co-founded the East County Community Action Coalition along with her husband, Milt, will provide an update on the legal battle against Sunrise Powerlink on Thursday, June 16 from 7-8:45 p.m.

 

OOPS! THEY DID IT AGAIN: SDG&E CHOPPER DROPS A SECOND TOWER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Dennis Richardson
June 10, 2011 (San Diego)—Just four days after its sky crane dropped a Sunrise Powerlink tower 200 feet, a second transmission line tower has toppled in the Imperial Valley.
 

Following last Monday’s accident, SDG&E promised in a press release that the company was “taking immediate steps…to investigate what occurred today in order to ensure that this does not happen again.”

 

But it did happen again. Today at 8 a.m.,  the Sun Bird Erickson Air Crane helicopter was placing the fifth of five towers near Plaster City when three of the helicopter’s four hooks released.  Dangling by just one hook, the 15,000 pound tower was lowered to the ground and released, where it tipped over.  Fourtunately, no one was injured in either incident.  But residents of East County, where construction of Powerlink is also underway, are voicing concerns over safety of workers and the public.

READER’S EDITORIAL: ARIZONA’S FIRES REIGNITE CONCERNS OVER THE SUNRISE POWERLINK

 

By Laura Cyphert

 

June 10, 2011 (Lakeside)--As we watch the fires burning our neighbors in Arizona, we are again reminded why relying on imported power transmitted over hundreds of miles of vulnerable transmission lines, is a dangerous gamble for San Diego.

 

SDG&E HELICOPTER DROPS SECTION OF POWERLINK TOWER 200 FEET

 

June 7, 2011 (San Diego) -- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has announced that its air crane helicopter was involved in an accident today during construction activities for Sunrise Powerlink in the Imperial Valley.  The Powerlink high-voltage transmission line is also under construction through several communities in East County.  

 

“This morning a section of a transmission tower carried by the helicopter fell approximately 200- feet to the ground outside SDG&E’s Plaster City Construction Yard near the shoulder of the Evan Hewes Highway,” a media statement released by the company indicated.  View a photo of the crash.

POWERLINK HEARING CANCELLED—AGAIN

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 5, 2011 (San Diego) – A hearing on a request filed by three East County organizations seeking an injunction to stop construction on Sunrise Powerlink until opponents’ case can be heard in court has been cancelled. The hearing was set to take place tomorrow, May 6 in San Diego federal court.

 

According to David Hogan, consultant for the plaintiffs seeking an injunction, “Things are moving very quickly and little information is available but it appears that Federal District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia has abruptly recused himself from several federal lawsuits filed by Powerlink opponents. The cases have been transferred to Judge Roger Benitez.”

READER’S EDITORIAL: A VIEW WORTH PRESERVING

 

By Billy Ortiz

April 23, 2011 (Lakeside) – It’s a beautiful April day as I head down East Main Street in El Cajon towards my home near Tunnel Hill. I can't help but notice Old Glory high above the El Cajon skyline and beyond, my favorite place towering in the background: El Cajon Mountain, also known as El Capitan.

 

VIDEO ADVENTURES IN EAST COUNTY: DISCOVERING THE LOST CITY OF EL CAPITAN

 

By Billy Ortiz
 

April 1, 2011 (Lakeside) – Back on December 27, ECM reported on my fall during a rockslide on El Capitan Mountain in Lakeside, when a 500-pound boulder dislodged and rolled over my leg. Thankfully I’ve recovered.

 

What hasn’t been reported until now, however, is the amazing discovery that resulted. I recently returned and found a hidden tunnel revealed behind that boulder, leading deep within the mountain. Inside, I discovered a vast underground lake. Even more astoundingly, after exploring it via kayak, I found the ruins of an entire lost civilization!

READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY IS OUR DRINKING WATER BEING SIPHONED OFF BY SDG&E FOR SUNRISE POWERLINK CONSTRUCTION?

 

An open letter to San Diego's Mayor and City Council

 

By John Pilch
President, San Carlos Area Council

 

March 22, 2011 (San Diego) --I'm intrigued by what's happening in the San Carlos Community with respect to water usage. While we're being advised of the continuing Stage 2 Drought Alert, the City of San Diego is selling water from two  hydrants on Lake Murray Blvd. West Frontage Road to the contractor who is constructing the Southwest Powerlink.

READER’S EDITORIAL: THE BUZZ OVER POWERLINK--WHY WE SHOULD SUPPORT WORKERS ON THE LINE

 

By Michelle Mann, Boulevard


“In a time of economic fallout it is nice that there are still jobs for good hard working Americans. That is what these guys are that are out building the power line.”

 

March 19, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) -- It is amazing to hear all the buzz about this new power line going in. It is astonishing how many people are trying to sabotage this project and oppose it. I would like to see all those people who are making such a stink about this project turn their power off. The only reason why these guys are out here building the power line is to provide power to those that are complaining.

EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS PROTEST ON STEPS OF SDG&E UPON NEWS THAT JUDGE CANCELS POWERLINK HEARING

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Ron Logan, Miriam Raftery, and Merton Gaudette

 

March 10, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Candy Jenkins was looking forward to seeing environmental evidence presented to a federal judge in San Diego on Monday. “I live on El Capitan Mountain,” said the Lakeside resident, who  alleges that SDG&E is building Sunrise Powerlink towers only 2,000 feet from an eagles’ nest. She has photos, and says the eagles are tagged and the locations documented by the County. “Towers weren’t supposed to be within 4,000 feet,” she said. “We’re bringing this out today in court.”

 

Told by this reporter that the hearing had been cancelled because Judge Michael Anello announced that he will be ruling on the written record only, Jenkins expressed shock. “It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Whatever happened to democracy in America?”

JUDGE CANCELS POWERLINK HEARING; RALLY TO PROCEED OUTSIDE SDG&E TODAY AT 12:30

 

March 7, 2011 (San Diego) – A federal judge has cancelled a public hearing challenging Sunrise Powerlink. The trial was slated to begin today in downtown San Diego, but instead the judge has notified plaintiffs that he will be ruling based on the record.  The decision comes as a disappointment to Powerlink opponents, who say they looked forward to having their day in court.

Organizers of a “stop Powerlink” march to the courthouse have announced they will still hold a rally outside SDG&E headquarters today at 12:30 at 101 Ash Street, where speakers will include Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Michael Shamas, executive director of the Utility Consumers Action Network (UCAN), and. Dave Elliot, tribal member of the Manzanita Band of Kumeyaay.

POWERLINK TRIAL STARTS IN SAN DIEGO: OPPONENTS PLAN MARCH FROM SDG&E HEADQUARTERS TO COURTHOUSE MARCH 7

 

 

March 3, 2011 (San Diego) – “Not a done deal. We are in court,” reads a flyer published by opponents of the Sunrise Powerlink project urging the public to join a march to the federal courthouse downtown, where the first federal lawsuit against the high-voltage line will be heard on March 7th.

 

A PIECE OF RESISTANCE: RATEPAYERS PROTEST POWERLINK IN ALPINE

 

$1.8 billion, the cost of the Powerlink, could fund 90,000 individual 5kW systems which would generate nearly a half million kW (450,000 kW) per hour, opponents say.

 

Story and photos by Ron Logan

March 1, 2011 (Alpine) – Tuesday morning, Sempra Energy and SDG&E encountered more pushback to their Sunrise Powerlink construction in downtown Alpine.

 

The Powerlink construction, which will take about two years to construct and is scheduled for completion in 2012, has drawn criticism at every step of the process, including hundreds of Alpine residents who have turned out at past hearings to voice overwhelming opposition to the project.

CA SUPREME COURT REJECTS UCAN APPEAL, SIDES WITH SDG&E ON POWERLINK

 

 

February 24, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Supreme Court has denied without comment an appeal filed by Utility Consumers Action Network (UCAN), which sought to stop the Sunrise Powerlink project on the basis that it violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

SECOND LAWSUIT IN MONTH FILED OVER POWERLINK;

 

 

February 11, 2011 (San Diego). – Legal troubles are mounting for San Diego Gas and Electric's proposed "Sunrise Powerlink" transmission line with the filing of a new lawsuit this week by three local organizations against California's State Water Resources Control Board. The lawsuit was filed in California State Superior Court in Sacramento.

3 LOCAL GROUPS FILE SUIT TO BLOCK SUNRISE POWERLINK ON FEDERAL LANDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 15, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Three local organizations and an East County land use issues expert have filed a lawsuit against five federal agencies. The suit alleges that the agencies approved SDG&E’s planned Sunrise Powerlink transition line in violation of environmental regulations—in some cases, making decisions based on the original route through the Anza Borrego Desert, instead of the revised southern route through numerous East County communities.

 

The suit makes other contentions, notably that key decision makers ignored fire danger and failed to consider the collective impact on public lands in East County, where several wind farms are planned as well as Powerlink in some wilderness areas.  In addition, plaintiffs claim that some decisions were made before completion of studies on endangered species and that once completed, those studies found the project could threaten endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and other species.

6 BIG DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS GET UNWELCOME HOLIDAY SURPISE: NATIVE AMERICAN GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST BLM FOR FAILURE TO CONSENT

December 28, 2010 (Blythe, CA)-- La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, a Native American cultural protection group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, challenging the Bureau of Land Management permitting processes regarding six large solar facilities planned for the Mohave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts of Southern California (Case No.10CV2664 WQH WVG), including an Imperial Valley Solar project slated to hook up to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink.

FEDERAL JUDGE HALTS FIRST LARGE-SCALE SOLAR PROJECT ON PUBLIC LANDS


Judge grants Quechan Indian tribe’s request for temporary injunction on Tessera Solar plant in Imperial Valley;
decision has ramifications for large-scale energy projects in East County and across the nation
 

By Miriam Raftery
 

December 16, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Local and statewide activists battling massive energy projects on public lands are praising a decision issued by U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns yesterday, while the CEO of Tessera Solar says he is "deeply disappointed" in the ruling.

 

The federal Judge issued a temporary restraining order halting construction on the first massive desert solar project authorized on public lands—a project that if built, would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world.

GREEN GOLD MINE OR LAND GRAB? GOVERNOR, DIGNITARIES AT POWERLINK GROUNDBREAKING IN EAST COUNTY

150 protesters stage rally outside, vow to file new lawsuits

View our video highlights by Billy Ortiz

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photos by Dennis Richardson and Miriam Raftery

 

 

 

 

“Some people look out in the deserts and just see empty space. I see a gold mine there for clean energy.” – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“This is a big land grab—the taking away of our wilderness areas.” – Marion Bowles, protester

December 10, 2010 (McCain Valley) – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Kennedy’s son, Joe Kennedy, were among the leaders on hand for a symbolic groundbreaking of Sunrise Powerlink yesterday at McCain Valley in San Diego’s East County. Inside the Rough Acre Ranch (former training ground for the San Diego Chargers), the Governor praised the project as “an example to the rest of the nation.”

 

He then helped affix a commemorative plaque to a massive power tower top, or bridge, wider than the audience seating area. The project will have 436 towers. Afterwards, about 200 invited guests celebrated at a lavish luncheon provided by SDG&E and its parent, Sempra Energy.

GOVERNOR TO SPEAK AT SUNRISE POWERLINK GROUNDBREAKING TODAY; PROTEST PLANNED IN MCCAIN VALLEY

 

December 9. 2010 (San Diego’s East County) -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is confirmed to appear with other dignitaries at a groundbreaking hosted by San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) for Sunrise Powerlink slated for 11 a.m. today (originally set for 9 a.m.)

 

In response, the Protect Our Communiities Foundation is organizing a protest, calling the groundbreaking “premature” since three active lawsuits against Sunrise Powerlink are currently in the courts—any one of which could potentially halt the project.

TRIBE SUES TO BLOCK DESERT SOLAR PROJECT; PROTESTERS GATHER IN OCOTILLO TO OPPOSE ONE OF WORLD'S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECTS


Environmentalists, desert enthusiasts and East County organizations also object to Tessera’s 10-mile-long, 6,000-acre desert solar farm which would tie in to Sunrise Powerlink

 

By Miriam Raftery
 

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