Sunrise Powerlink - Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

SDG&E has stated that the line is intended to carry renewable energy generated by the sun, wind and geothermal sources. In its 4-1 decision to approve the line, the CPUC stated that the Sunrise Powerlink will facilitate the development of Imperial Valley renewable energy projects capable of generating 1,900 megawatts of clean power. The decision further stated that this renewable energy would likely remain unavailable to San Diego without a new, secure transmission line. However, in a dissenting opinion, CPUC Commissioner Dian Grueneich, stated that the application should be denied for the following reasons: (1) It is not needed to meet SDG&E's renewable portfolio standard (RPS)obligation of 20% by 2010;(2) Assuming a 20% RPS, it is not economic and will potentially generate significant ratepayer costs; (3) It will have many significant and unmitigable impacts on the environment; and (4) Other alternatives will meet SDG&E's eventual reliability needs more economically and with fewer significant and unmitigable impacts on the environment.

SDG&E is not legally obligated to carry any renewable energy on the line. In response to that concern, SDG&E President & CEO Debra Reed stated in testimony before the commission that the utility would make three voluntary commitments if Sunrise is approved. She stated that SDG&E would: (1) not contract, for any length of term, with conventional coal generators that deliver power via Sunrise, (2) replace any currently approved renewable energy contract deliverable via Sunrise that fails with a viable contract with a renewable generator located in Imperial Valley, and (3) voluntarily raise SDG&E's renewable energy goal to 33 percent by 2020. (SDG&E was the first investor-owned utility in California to make this commitment.)

According to the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, east San Diego County, along with neighboring Imperial County and Northern Baja California, has a potential aggregate generating capacity of roughly 6,870 megawatts (MW) for solar energy, 3,495 MW for wind power and 2,000 MW for geothermal energy. Together, these renewable resources could potentially produce enough electricity to power 8 million homes.

This will help meet several state and federal policies and mandates for the increased use of green energy, including:

  • President Obama's New Energy for America Plan: This plan seeks to ensure that 25 percent of the country's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025. Roughly $6.5 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is intended to provide tax relief and other incentives to develop the infrastructure necessary to move renewable energy from rural production areas to urban markets.
  • California Renewables Portfolio Standard: This mandate requires utilities to provide at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order raising this threshold to 33 percent by 2020.
  • California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32): This requires the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. A study by the University of San Diego identified increased use of renewable energy as the most effective means of reducing energy-related GHG emissions in the region.

Read more about this topic:  Sunrise Powerlink

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