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Let's join the chorus: Approve Sunrise

Local Commentary

Posted: December 6, 2008 9:06 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 4:59 a.m.
There is a groundswell of support up and down California for an electric transmission project that promises to move the state toward greater reliance on renewable, "green" energy.

I want to urge all in the Santa Clarita Valley to join the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce in supporting San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

But time is of the essence.

The California Public Utilities Commission is poised to conclude a grinding three-year approval process with an up or down vote on Sunrise at its meeting scheduled for Dec. 18.

Fortunately, two of the commissioners have authored alternate decisions that would green-light the project, but only one - sponsored by PUC President Michael Peevey - serves the best interests of all customers.

And incredibly, other special interests are aligned to kill Sunrise.

And why should we in Santa Clarita care about a 120-mile electric transmission line that will carry around
1,000 megawatts of renewable power - solar, geothermal and wind - from the Imperial Valley to Southern California?

For one, the California Independent System Operator, manager of the state's power grid, says this line must be built as soon as possible to maintain reliable electric service in the region.

Our state grid is an interconnected system, so if the southern-most part of the grid goes down, chances are the lights go out for us as well.

And what about California's global warming initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions by relying on a more balanced energy portfolio? This requires an appropriate mix of renewable sources and fossil fuels, like clean-burning natural gas. We should all support that - right?

Well, there are some who don't. Surprisingly, some supposed environmental activists are supporting an alternate plan proposed by a PUC judge that would deny the Sunrise Powerlink in favor of building several new power plants in San Diego that burn fossil fuels.

Such a plan moves California backward and thwarts our state's move toward a green energy future.

All Californians are counting on the development of the vast renewable energy resources found in the
Imperial Valley region to move the state's clean energy plans forward.

However, new transmission lines are needed to deliver this clean energy to our urban areas.

Current law mandates utilities to have 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed an executive order that moves the state toward a 33 percent renewable goal by 2020 - the most aggressive target in the nation.

President Peevey's proposal ensures the Sunrise Powerlink can move forward quickly, while helping to kick-start the development of renewable power projects in California that are needed to meet these clean energy goals.

The time for our new energy economy is now, and projects like the Sunrise Powerlink are pointing us in the right direction.

Write to the Public Utilities Commission at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, and urge the commissioners to vote in favor of the Peevey decision.

Santa Clarita should join the chorus.

Larry Mankin is a Santa Clarita resident who serves as president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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