Some of those dignitaries included a number of Imperial Valley officials like county District 4 Supervisor Gary Wyatt, who echoed the governor’s comments about making the delivery of clean energy projects a reality in order to foster economic growth.
Green energy projects would not be able to move forward without the new transmission line slated for construction, said Andy Horne, Imperial County deputy executive officer of natural resource development.
“Without the Sunrise Powerlink many of these projects could not be built,” Horne said.
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Referring to how Californians were forced to endure rolling blackouts a decade ago, Schwarzenegger said the time has come for endeavors like the $1.8 billion Sunrise Powerlink to balance environmental protection and the need to provide clean energy.
Following five years of attaining permits, the 500-kilovolt transmission line of the Sunrise Powerlink spans from Imperial County to San Diego and has the capacity to deliver energy to power 650,000 homes. The project whose completion is expected by mid-2012 is also expected to usher in an estimated 2,000 jobs.
Schwarzenegger made reference to how the Imperial Valley is a potential hub for green energy.
“There’s a gold mine here,” the governor said, “a gold mine of renewable energy.”
Schwarzenegger’s relative by marriage, Joe Kennedy, also appeared during the groundbreaking ceremony and spoke of how the governor’s energy policy is one the federal government needs.
But not everyone was happy with the building of the transmission line.
A number of protesters picketed outside the entrance of San Diego Gas & Electric-owned site where the ceremony took place.
Donna Tisdale, president of Backcountry Against Dumps and secretary of the Protect Our Communities Foundation, said in a prepared statement that contrary to SDG&E’s claims, “the power link is not a done deal.”
The protesters maintain that the McCain Valley Resource Conservation Area will be destroyed by Sunrise Powerlink during its construction over 15,000 acres of public land and some private land that is owned by Hamann Cos., an absentee developer, Tisdale said.
“If I were invited to today’s dog and pony show, I would say: 'Welcome to Boulevard. Now take your stinking giant power lines … your false promises, your dirty money … and get the hell out of town. You are not welcome here!'”
Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at 760 337-3442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org