In a story done by our online media partners at VoiceofSanDiego.org, the utility announced it can take the high-voltage power lines and 120 foot-tall steel poles south of California's largest state park and avoid the populated areas of Julian and Ramona.
The proposal to bring power from Imperial County to San Diego has been argued for nearly three years. During that time, SDG&E said it had no other choice but to build through Anza-Borrego, upsetting environmental groups and park supporters. Now, despite dozens of public meetings, verbal fights with politicians and protests, leaders at SDG&E have found a new solution.
The new southern route runs through Imperial County, north near In-Ko-Pah, around but not through the Campo Indian Reservation, south around the Hauser Wilderness and along Interstate 8 to San Diego. The new route parallels the existing Southwest Power Link, our region's other major high-voltage transmission line. The southern route is also 27 miles shorter than SDG&E's original perferred route.
Opponents argue that the change in routes may also be a change in strategy for SDG&E.
"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 company, told the VoiceofSanDiego.org in a 2007 interview. "There's no other way to get here."
Now, SDG&E has found a way to get here and may have also discovered the way to get the project done.