Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008 | For nearly three years, whenever San Diego Gas & Electric talked about the Sunrise Powerlink’s proposed path through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the company and its representatives were adamant: Building the power line through the park was unavoidable.
To tap into undeveloped renewable energy sources in Imperial County, the company said it had no other choice but to build through Anza-Borrego — a decision that elicited broad protests from environmentalists and park supporters.
“I will assure you that if there was any way not to build this through the park, we would not build it through the park,” Donald Felsinger, the CEO of Sempra Energy, SDG&E’s parent, said in a 2007 interview. “There’s no other way to get here.”
Turns out, there is.
With a final decision nearing about whether the line will be built, the last step in a years-long permitting process, SDG&E has announced that it would accept a different alignment for the proposed $1.2 billion, 150-mile power line project that would route it south of Anza-Borrego.
The announcement all but eliminates any chance that the high-voltage power line’s 120-foot-tall steel poles would be built through Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, and comes after a voluminous state-federal environmental review concluded that less damaging alternatives exist. Instead of running a northern route from Imperial County through the park and areas such as Julian, Santa Ysabel and Ramona, SDG&E pointed to a southern route as a newly viable option, despite having rejected it before.