The Sunrise Powerlink in San Diego's east county is up and running, but there’s one final step before the job is finished.
Gov. Jerry Brown, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state and local representatives will attend a dedication ceremony for SDG&E's $1.9 billion project that connects San Diego and the Imperial Valley.
"The only way to get stuff done is to figure stuff out, think about it, get all the feedback, listen to everyone, and then move forward, and then to crush the competition," Brown said, laughing.
He joked that "crushing the competition" could only happen after a thorough Environmental Impact Study.
Schwarzenegger praised the powerlink's creation of clean energy and new jobs.
The link will provide vital back-up energy during the summer with the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station offline, SDG&E officials say. It is described as a “superhighway” of electricity that will light up about 650,000 homes.
Construction began in December 2010 after the completion of environmental impact studies and state and federal approval processes.
The start of construction was marked with fanfare similar to Thursday’s dedication ceremony. Schwarzenegger attended that groundbreaking ceremony, and called the link a “huge win for the people of California.”
The massive steel towers span 117 miles across the east county. In 2007, the old towers made of wood were knocked down by wind, touching off the county’s catastrophic wildfires that year.
Yet many Alpine residents fought against the construction of the system, and are still opposed to the project. A protest organized during the ceremony criticized the project, saying it destroyed their rural communities and ruined 20 square miles of desert.
"There's six towers within a half mile of my home," said Diane Richards with the group Back Country Against Dumps. "[It is a ] pristine area. I see the back country as being raped."
Several groups protesting wanted the political leaders present to be aware of the effect state and federal decisions have on their community.
"People like Jerry Brown will never get my vote again," said Denis Trafecanty with the Protect our Communities Foundation. "I voted for him twice. I wasn't born yesterday, but won't vote for him again because I think he's yielding to pressure."