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The Switch Has Been Flipped….SDG&E Energizes Sunrise Powerlink

SDG&E Sunrise Powerlink Logo

SDG&E Energizes Sunrise Powerlink

117-Mile, 500,000-Volt Transmission Line Will Support Electric
System Reliability This Summer

June 18, 2012

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced that it has completed and put into service the Sunrise Powerlink, a 500,000-volt transmission line linking San Diego to the Imperial Valley, one of the most renewable-rich regions in California.

The completion of the nearly $1.9 billion project culminates a rigorous, 5-year-long environmental review and permitting process and 18 months of construction that encompassed both overhead and underground technology as well as different climates and rough, remote terrain. The Sunrise Powerlink was the subject of an extensive regulatory review – a collaborative effort involving SDG&E and a number of state and federal agencies – considered to be the most comprehensive study of a proposed transmission power line in state history.

“Putting the Sunrise Powerlink into service is the final milestone in a complex and challenging energy project that ranks among the largest and most significant in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E. “Design, planning, construction and implementation of the project required scores of public hearings, detailed construction schedules to accommodate a wide array of environmental regulations and coordination of thousands of helicopter flights to ferry crews and material to the construction sites along the route.”

Capable of bringing initially up to 800 megawatts of additional imported power into San Diego, the Sunrise Powerlink will play an especially important role this summer, as the line was originally designed to do. The transmission line will eventually carry 1,000 megawatts of power, or enough energy to serve 650,000 homes. SDG&E and the California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), the agency that manages most of the statewide grid, consider the Sunrise Powerlink one of the important mitigation measures that will help maintain electric reliability during heat waves without power from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

“The timing for completion of this important new transmission artery could not come at a more critical time,” said Steve Berberich, president and chief executive officer of the ISO. “Sunrise Powerlink is more valuable today than when it was conceived because of the significant reliability benefits it brings helping to compensate for the loss of power from the San Onofre power plant this summer.”

The Sunrise Powerlink consists of more than 110 miles of overhead 500kV and 230kV transmission towers and conductor, 6.2 miles of underground 230kV cable and a 40-acre, 500kV transmission substation, which reduces the voltage for use by homes and businesses. More than 4.7 million work hours were required to complete the project – the equivalent of 2,260 people working 40 hours per week for a year. Because nearly 75 percent of the tower locations required helicopters to set the tower structures for environmental reasons, it took more than 28,000 flight hours to complete the aerial construction.

“Keeping this project on budget and on schedule by reducing our construction timeline from 24 months to just 18 months is a testament to our employees and all those who worked on this major endeavor,” said Michael R. Niggli, president and chief operating officer of SDG&E. “I am proud of their diligence, dedication and commitment to safety. I also extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to those who live and work in and around the various construction areas for their patience and understanding during this process. ”

In the near future, the Sunrise Powerlink will deliver a significant amount of wind and solar power to San Diego. Over the past three years, SDG&E has signed eight renewable agreements for more than 1,000 MW of solar and wind power from projects in Imperial County; that green energy will be transmitted across the Sunrise Powerlink.

By 2020, 33 percent of SDG&E’s power will be derived from renewable resources. In 2011, more than 20 percent of SDG&E’s electricity was obtained from renewable energy.

“This vital infrastructure project and the construction jobs that were created as a result have revitalized the Imperial Valley region, which has experienced high unemployment for years,” said Imperial County Board of Supervisor Gary Wyatt. “The Sunrise Powerlink, which now provides the pathway for local renewable energy projects, enables us to develop Imperial County’s abundant renewable energy resources while also preserving our natural resources and native habitat.”

BY THE NUMBERS – Sunrise Powerlink construction highlights:

  • 13,200 tons of steel=total weight of all 438 transmission structures.
    (By comparison, the Coronado Bay Bridge contains 20,000 tons of steel.)
  • 1,135 miles of overhead high-voltage wire=from end to end would reach from San Diego to San Antonio.
  • 438 tower foundations=concrete used would cover an entire football field to a depth of 12 feet.
  • 1.3 million cubic yards of earth was moved during construction=enough to fill the Empire State Building.

SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

For more on the Sunrise Powerlink, please visit our photo and video page

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  1. Yes, I agree, Alpine did not fight hard enough, but the case against the Sunrise Powerlink is being heard right now. Isn’t that interesting that case finally gets heard just as the powerlink is done?

  2. Of course 🙂 they are going to take full advantage of us because we do not fight them. Our planning groups didn’t protect our town, our county didn’t do anything…. Who else is going to change this?

  3. i just told my wife watch they will turn on the new stuff and there will be an issue. suppose they will blame us customers for it and charge us for it

  4. While I was reading these posts my daughter went outside to get the mail and heard a rattlesnake somewhere off the driveway and then saw a random CAT next to the rattlesnake. She scared off the cat and came to get me. I called the Chief at the Alpine Fire Station and he was actually ON the FIRE at the Transformer here in Alpine and he sent his guys that were on that fire (which was now OUT) to my house to get the rattlesnake! BTW – they did an AMAZING JOB! With the FIRE AND THE RATTLESNAKE!!

  5. That’s def not a transformer….and for sure powerlink. Dang!

  6. there is nothing going on up there. Looks like they have it under control. No smoke, no fire, just a few trucks and guys making sure their shovels dont fall over. I think it mus have been just thetransformer going out

  7. However this “renewable energy” is not green by any means. It just means the destruction is out of view of the environmentalists in the city. However the desert ecosystem is destroyed.

  8. You’re right. It can happen any time. Does anyone know if the Alpine Fire is out? I live near that side of town and don’t see any smoke.

  9. I am not sure.the report just said “Transformer – Powerlink” That is the
    only info that has been available at this time. It is weird that it would
    say “Powerlink”. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, just stating what it
    said. Hopefully I will be able to get more accurate info soon.

    Angela Brookshire – Director

    Alpine’s “Citizen of the Year” 2011-2012

    (619) 993-4234


    Stay Connected With Your Community!

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  10. Irregardless if is is the Powerlink or not, SDGE and Fire Season seem to go hand in hand. That is the Irony they are referring to.

  11. The transformer on a overhead line has nothing to do with a 500 line in campo…..a transformer could blow on any street in Alpine. Do we blame that on a 500 line running into a substation? Do we know if this was just a “normal” transformer on a pole along tavern?

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