August 14, 2009 -- The Utility Consumers Action Network has filed two petitions with appellate courts seeking to halt construction of Sunrise Powerlink, Sempra Energy’s high-voltage power line project slated for East County.
The first was an appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal. In it, UCAN urges the court to remand the case back to the PUC, arguing that it failed to do three critical things in its review of the SDG&E application:
1. Comply with Public Utilities Code Sec. 1002.3 which requires the Commission to evaluate cost-effective and feasible alternatives to a utility proposal. The appeal details how the PUC avoided evaluation of UCAN's two alternatives and claims the public agency “cooked the books in order to make one other alternative seem more costly than Sunrise.”
2. Adhere to its own rules forbidding introduction of unevaluated material facts upon which it relied to make its decision. UCAN recounts numerous ways in which the Commission decision “relies upon hearsay and post-hearing data that was never subject to analysis.”
3. Require SDG&E to prove Sunrise's cost-effective with clear and convincing evidence. The PUC imposed a much less rigorous burden of proof upon SDG&E.
On the same day, August 12, UCAN teamed up with the Center for Biological Diversity to file an appeal at the California Supreme Court challenging the Public Utilities Commission's violations of the California Environmental Quality Act in its approval of the Sunrise.
The Petition argues that the Sunrise power line could result in millions of additional tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year through additional fossil-fuel-based energy production. Because the PUC refused to require the line to actually carry renewable energy, the petition requests that the Court send the power-line approval back to the drawing board.
“The PUC's failure to ensure that the Sunrise line will carry a single kilowatt of renewable energy violates California law and is particularly troubling because the commission sold the line to the public on the premise that it would bring clean energy to the San Diego region,” UCAN’s petition states. “Yet when pressed on this point, it changed its tune and refused to require the line to carry any clean energy at all.”
Under the California Environmental Quality Act, the state must consider mitigation measures to lessen the harm from the project, yet the utilities commission refused to include any measures to ensure that the line carries even a percentage of energy from renewable energy projects instead of dirty, fossil-fuel power.
The petition exposes, for the first time, that rather than the 44 significant environmental impacts that were referenced in the November 2008 PUC decision, there were actually 100 significant impacts caused by the approved route -- few of which were ever analyzed or offset.
To view the UCAN appeals and petitions, see:
UCANAppellatePetition for Writ.pdf
SDG&E has argued that the Sunrise Powerlink is necessary to fulfill our region’s future energy needs. To view SDG&E’s arguments in favor of the project, visit www.sunrisepowerlink.com.