CPUC Issues Proposed Decisions for Sunrise Transmission Line

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released an Administrative Law Judge Proposed Decision and a Commissioner’s Alternate Proposed Decision regarding San Diego Gas and Electric Company’s (SDG&E) proposed 150-mile Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Project.

The Proposed Decision sponsored by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denies the Sunrise application, stating that the line is not needed to meet California’s current renewable portfolio standard requirements. The decision also said that if the line were constructed it could result in a rise in costs to ratepayers and environmental damage.

Among other things, the ALJ’s proposed decision said that SDG&E’s service area will not experience a reliability need or electricity shortage until 2014 and the shortage may be met more economically and more reliably with generation-based alternatives.

The Alternate Proposed Decision sponsored by Commissioner Dian Grueneich, the assigned Commissioner in the Sunrise proceeding, approved, with conditions, the Final Environmentally Superior Southern Route for Sunrise that is described in the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement. This route avoids Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and all tribal lands.

The Alternate Proposed Decision also concludes that Sunrise is not needed to meet California’s current 20 percent by 2010 renewables requirement, but that it will be needed to meet California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals by facilitating renewable procurement. The Alternate Proposed Decision finds that if Sunrise is used to deliver renewable power at 33 percent levels it will generate more than US $100 million per year in ratepayer benefits.

The Alternate Proposed Decision requires SDG&E to prepare a “Sunrise Compliance Plan” for CPUC approval that will ensure that substantial amounts of Imperial Valley renewables will be delivered on the line. If SDG&E agrees to the condition, it will be permitted to engage in pre-construction activities prior to the CPUC’s approval of its compliance plan, but it may not engage in any activities that could result in a material physical impact to the environment.

In describing the Alternate Proposed Decision, Commissioner Grueneich said, “It is critical that we focus on our GHG goals. If Sunrise can deliver the Imperial Valley renewables promised by SDG&E, we can go a long way toward meeting those goals and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in ratepayer benefits.”

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