Friday, Oct. 19, 2007 | A regional energy study released Thursday calls for a massive increase in San Diego’s reliance on solar power as a way to supplant the need for the Sunrise Powerlink, a $1.3 billion power line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric.
The $30,000 report, which was funded by the San Diego Foundation and authored by local engineer and Sunrise critic Bill Powers, recommends developing a $1.5 billion San Diego Solar Initiative — akin to a statewide initiative currently underway.
While acknowledging that the renewable-energy plan was “ambitious,” Powers said it would help the region increase its energy independence, reduce climate-change inducing impacts from fossil-fuel generated electricity and eliminate the need for the Powerlink.
The 150-mile power line, which is currently under consideration by the California Public Utilities Commission, is described by SDG&E as a necessary way to connect San Diego to potential renewable energy projects in Imperial County. A decision on it is expected next summer.
Powers takes a different view of the region’s energy future. His report suggests using a $1.5 billion subsidy to develop what he calls the San Diego Solar Initiative, a 2,000-megawatt effort to blanket big buildings in the region with photovoltaic solar panels. That’s equal to more than three power plants’ worth of electricity, the amount the Powerlink could convey.
Achieving Powers’ vision would be difficult. Installing 2,000 megawatts of solar on large local buildings would be nothing short of revolutionary. The region currently gets about 30 megawatts of its energy from the sun — less than 1 percent.