October 14, 2008
BLM, CPUC Release Final EIS/EIR for Proposed Sunrise Powerlink Project
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have published a joint final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) analyzing the Sunrise Powerlink project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and a range of alternatives.
As required by federal regulations, BLM identified its "BLM agency preferred alternative" in the final EIS as the “southern route alternative.” BLM Desert District Manager Steve Borchard said "this is based on a careful review of the resource data in the final EIS/EIR, full consideration of the public comments received and a determination that this alternative achieves all of the CPUC and BLM project objectives and most of SDG&E's project objectives." This route is described in detail and shown on maps in the final EIS/EIR, available at CPUC’s website http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/environment/info/aspen/sunrise/toc-feir.htm.
Borchard also stressed "this does not represent a final agency decision" on the project approval or route, which comes later in the process after protests received by BLM as part of its plan amendment process are resolved. He noted CPUC has a separate decision-making process now that the EIS/EIR is complete and referred explanation of that process to CPUC.
SDG&E proposes to construct a new 500-kilovolt (kV) electrical transmission line from the Imperial Valley Substa-tion, near El Centro, to a new Central East Substation in central San Diego County, and a new 230-kV line from the proposed Central East Substation to the existing Peñasquitos Substation in San Diego. Portions of the proposed route or alternatives impact federal public lands managed by BLM and the Forest Service; lands held in trust for Native Americans; and lands owned by the state of California, local governments, and private parties.
BLM's agency preferred alternative would require an amendment to BLM’s land use plan because a small portion of the alignment is outside a designated BLM utility corridor. Public protests to this proposed plan amendment must be submitted by Nov. 17, 2008. Protests must be filed in accordance with federal regulations to be considered. Details on how to file those protests with BLM's Director in Washington, D.C. are available in the final EIS/EIR and on BLM's website at www.blm.gov/ca/elcentro .