BOULEVARD (CNS) - Construction officially began Thursday on a 117-mile transmission line that will carry electricity from the Imperial Valley to San Diego, but that critics say will harm the environment.
Sunrise Powerlink was fought for years by back-county residents and environmentalists, who claimed the power line would destroy the character of their mountain communities and be used to import "dirty" energy generated by coal-fired plans in Mexico.
San Diego Gas & Electric says the transmission line will carry "clean" renewable energy from the desert to San Diego and is necessary to keep up with the demand for power, while others say construction will also help spur the state's economic recovery.
A groundbreaking ceremony that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was held by the utility at a ranch in the mountains of far eastern San Diego County
"Today's ceremony marks the culmination of more than five years of study and planning for a transmission line critically needed to increase reliability and help meet our goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020," said Jessie Knight Jr., the chairman and CEO of SDG&E.
Jennifer Ramp, a spokeswoman for SDG&E, said the utility has only signed contracts for renewably generated energy and has made a commitment to the California Public Utilities Commission that the line won't be used to transmit electricity generated by coal.
The company also said a mitigation program that includes the purchase of land for preserves will mitigate any environmental impacts by 45 percent.
The governor said the $1.8 billion project - which will result in as many as 500 construction jobs over the next two years - will play a key role in the state's economic recovery.
"This transmission line opens the door for additional green investments and job creation in the Imperial Valley, while helping us meet our renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and improving the reliability of our power grid," Schwarzenegger said. "It is these types of big, bold projects California needs to transition to a clean energy future."
When completed in 2012, Sunrise Powerlink will be able to deliver up to 1,000 megawatts of energy to the region, enough to power 650,000 homes, according to SDG&E.
Part of the early work will include a 6.2-mile underground stretch along Alpine Boulevard, according to Ramp.
People arrested by deportation officers increasingly have no criminal backgrounds, according to figures released Friday, reflecting the Trump administration's commitment to cast a wider net.
Hundreds gathered Friday in Carmel Valley to raise awareness about the number one cause of death of women in America - cardiovascular disease.
Unsubstantiated threats against four San Diego-area public schools led to heightened police patrols at the campuses Friday, continuing a disturbing trend in the aftermath of last week's gun massacre at a Florida high school.
The military says a sailor was hit by a helicopter rotor blade at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, north of San Diego.
The federal government has started work on a border wall in California to replace a decaying decades-old barrier.
A woman fleeing the scene of a predawn North County freeway collision was fatally struck by a third vehicle Friday while trying to run across Interstate 5, authorities reported.
A Southern California couple suspected of starving and shackling some of their 13 children pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges of child abuse.