Final tower set as Sunrise Powerlink nears completion

Crews from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) reached two major milestones June 4 in the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink, a 500-kV project that will bring renewable energy to the area from the El Centro area east of San Diego.

Tower #EP-114, the last of 438 such structures, was lowered into place on U.S. Forest Service land north of the community of Campo, Calif., by crews using a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter. On the same day, construction crews strung the 100th mile of conductor.

“We are 96% compete,” an SDG&E spokesperson told TransmissionHub on June 5.

The utility still has to string about 10 miles of conductor, as six miles of the 117-mile project are located underground. After that, crews will be placing the remainder of the marker balls on the lines, dead-ending some of the lines, then conducting the variety of tests prior to energization.

“We’re completing the final steps before we energize the line in the next few weeks,” the spokesperson said.

Despite its near-completion, the project still faces legal challenges.

Oral arguments in two lawsuits against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are scheduled before U.S. District Court in San Diego June 7, a BLM spokesperson told TransmissionHub on June 5. In addition, oral arguments in a third matter will be made before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals meeting in Pasadena, Calif., also on June 7.

SDG&E officials are confident about the project’s future.

“The project has prevailed against every legal challenge thus far,” the SDG&E spokesperson said.  “We’re confident that the judge will agree with all the previous legal decisions made, that this project is environmentally sound and has been approved accordingly.”

SDG&E expects to complete the project within its anticipated $1.9bn budget.

SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE).