San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob has asked the state Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its approval of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission corridor because of its potential to make the unincorporated community of Alpine into "a ghost town" due to years of construction.
San Diego Gas & Electric's 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink corridor would provide connections to new solar, biofuel and other power plants in the Imperial County desert. Environmentalists have fought the project because of its impact to fragile open spaces. But in Alpine, a small town along Interstate 8, the power lines would be placed underground along Alpine Boulevard for 6 miles. Construction for the lines could have the town's main thoroughfare torn up for at least two years.
Jacob and Alpine residents protest that they did not learn about this potential alignment until very late in the process, when SDG&E abandoned its preferred route through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The utility company maintains the route was thoroughly publicized and analyzed, and it has urged the PUC not to reconsider its December 2008 approval of the project. Litigation over Sunrise Powerlink continues.
Meanwhile, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution restating its support for the Sunrise Powerlink project. With the highest unemployment rate in the country, Imperial County is hopeful for jobs from construction and operation of new power plants.