Sunrise Powerlink to Connect Solar Energy to California Power Grid

The Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile new transmission line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to connect the nation’s largest solar energy facility to the California power grid, is supported by the Associated Business & Labor for Energy (ABLE), a California coalition composed of more than a dozen business and labor groups.

The new solar-thermal site planned by Stirling Energy Systems and existing geothermal fields near the Salton Sea is one of several new facilities to be built in Imperial Valley that will use the line to help deliver renewable power to more than 650,000 customers in the San Diego region. The Stirling facility, which will be able to deliver up to 900 megawatts (MW) of solar power, is said to be the largest such site in the U.S. The line would benefit all California energy consumers as the state’s power grid is already interconnected. An infrastructure upgrade in one section of the grid, such as the Sunrise Powerlink, improves reliability throughout the state. “The proposed Stirling project, and other renewable energy resources like it, will help secure a clean-energy future for California,” stated Bill Keese, past chairman of the California Energy Commission and ABLE member. “But we must have new transmission lines, like the Sunrise Powerlink, to ensure this renewable energy can be delivered to customers.” The Sunrise Powerlink would help SDG&E meet the state regulators’ goal of having 20 percent of its energy come from renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal, by the year 2010. SDG&E received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission for a contract with Stirling Energy Systems for up to 600 MW of solar energy that will be generated in the Imperial Valley and delivered to SDG&E customers via the Sunrise Powerlink. Not long ago, SDG&E signed a contract for geothermal energy generated at a facility near the Salton Sea. SDG&E will complete a full environmental assessment of the potential routes before submitting them to the California Public Utilities Commission for consideration later this year.
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