Controversial Sunrise Powerlink transmission line dedicated in San Diego County

The Sunrise Powerlink began operating in June and was dedicated in a ceremony with Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.
The Sunrise Powerlink began operating in June and was dedicated in a ceremony with Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. NBC-LA

California Gov. Jerry Brown dedicated the sometimes-controversial 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink in San Diego County on Thursday.

At a ceremony in an Alpine substation, Brown touted the recently-completed transmission line’s ability to carry wind and solar energy from the Inland to San Diego Gas & Electric customers. Renewable energy makes up about 20 percent of that utility’s current portfolio mix.

State law now requires that number to be pumped to 33 percent within eight years. Sunrise Powerlink itself is mostly comprised of overhead lines; its route changed during years of planning after objections about disturbing golden eagles and raising fire risks.

The projects to which it connects in the Imperial Valley also changed during planning and construction. A few solar and geothermal projects stalled or disappeared entirely for regulatory and financing reasons.

One new need has emerged for Sunrise Powerlink: the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Orange County has been shut down since late January.

Brown and utility officials say the Sunrise Powerlink will transmit reliable energy to demanding urban areas, keeping the lights on and air conditioners blowing this summer.

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