Powerlink meeting is met with outrage -- Residents say SDG&E didn't announce routing
Union Tribune (2009-02-21) Anne Krueger
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Powerlink meeting is met with outrage
Residents say SDG&E didn't announce routing
By Anne Krueger
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. February 21, 2009
LAKESIDE — Jody Morgan cherishes his 100-acre property in El Monte Valley, where El Cajon Mountain rises above the rural community that's home to a dairy and horse farms.
At a Lakeside planning group meeting Wednesday night, Morgan held up a photo he created of what the valley would look like if the proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line were built there. Lattice steel towers more than 150 feet high held up power lines running over the land.
“If this project is not a sin, it's a crime against nature,” Morgan said.
Morgan was one of about 100 people at the meeting to hear a presentation by SDG&E officials. Angry residents said they weren't given notice that the approved route for the controversial Sunrise Powerlink transmission line will run through El Monte Valley.
“I took this as a personal slap in the face that nobody bothered to contact Lakeside,” said Rick Smith, chairman of the Lakeside planning group.
In December, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 123-mile line running through East County along Interstate 8 from Imperial Valley to San Diego. The commission rejected SDG&E's plans to run the $2 billion line through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
SDG&E officials said numerous community meetings were held in East County while the transmission project was being considered for approval. An open house will be held Wednesday in Lakeside to answer residents' questions.
Residents said that because of SDG&E's focus on the northern route, they had few worries that the line would be built through East County.
“You decided to put it through Lakeside, but never discussed it with us,” planning group member Robin Clegg told SDG&E project manager Alan Colton. “It's a done deal. Is that how it is?”
“Pretty much,” Colton replied, which was met with derisive hoots and hollers from audience members.
The planning group unanimously passed a resolution opposing the line, and members said they will send letters to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the PUC. However, the resolution may have little effect because planning groups are advisory bodies.
Several residents told SDG&E officials the lines should be placed underground, as they will be through Alpine, or rerouted out of the scenic valley. SDG&E technical project manager Jonathan Woldemariam said neither option was feasible.
El Monte Valley resident Milt Cyphert said he lost his home in the 2003 wildfires, but never considered moving elsewhere because he loves the area. His voice rose in anger as he lambasted SDG&E officials for proposing to build the power lines there.
“That place is spiritual. It's magical,” Cyphert said. “It needs to be preserved and protected.”
Anne Krueger: (619) 542-4575; firstname.lastname@example.org