San Diego Gas says new transmission line a critical path for renewables

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) on Dec. 18 marked the fact that more than 1,000 MW of renewable power is being delivered to the San Diego region due to the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

Before the nearly $1.9bn grid project was approved, SDG&E pledged that Sunrise would be used to deliver substantial amounts of Imperial Valley renewable power to the California market. The 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink, which was completed in 2012, connects the Imperial Valley Substation in Imperial County to the Sycamore Canyon Substation in San Diego County.

The recent addition of the 150-MW Solar Gen 2 Imperial Valley solar project now brings to more than 1,000 MW the total amount of solar and wind power being transmitted to SDG&E customers from the Imperial Valley.

“When SDG&E voluntarily committed that a third of the power we deliver to our customers would be renewable, the Sunrise Powerlink was the optimal path to get us where we needed to be,” said James P. Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E. “Once it was clear this transmission project would be built, providing a second path to access the renewable-rich Imperial Valley, renewable developers realized their potential projects would be able to deliver energy to SDG&E customers.”

Seven of the 10 solar and wind projects SDG&E signed contracts for in Imperial Valley now are delivering a combined total of more than 1,000 MW of renewable energy to the grid. The achievement meets SDG&E’s commitment six years ago to replace any failed renewable contract that would have been deliverable by Sunrise with a new renewable contract from the same region. The power from these projects has greatly increased the amount of renewable energy in SDG&E’s resource portfolio, which has risen from 11.9% in 2010 to more than 30% in 2014.

The Sunrise Powerlink has also proven to be a critical addition to the region’s transmission infrastructure since the retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). For the past three summers, when customer demand typically is highest, the Sunrise Powerlink has enabled the import of additional energy into the San Diego region, which has been one of the most important mitigation measures to help to maintain electric reliability without the power previously provided by SONGS.

SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 860,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.