Documentary tackles controversial line
A one-time free viewing of the documentary A Question of Power about the ongoing battle over the 150-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric will be shown in Ramona Mainstage on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.
The public is encouraged to attend.
Written and narrated by Ramona resident Diane Conklin, the one-hour investigation of the controversial power line highlights transmission experts, consumer and environmental advocates, and San Diego County backcountry ranchers and residents and what they think of the project. Both the northern and southern routes are examined, along with future opportunities and options for San Diego’s energy supply.
The Stubborn Mule Productions documentary was produced by Donna Tisdale, 20-year chair of the Boulevard Planning Group, in conjunction with her organization Backcountry Against the Dump Inc.
“Nobody who sees it can believe this is a grass roots backcountry film,” said Conklin. “Everyone says it is the best thing they have ever seen about electricity, money, power politics and what is happening right here right now.”
Conklin, who is an intervener in the three-year proceedings before the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) on this project along with her husband, Joseph Mitchell, Ph.D., a physicist and fire expert, has fought the power line because she is opposed to adding more ignition sources to the backcountry.
“This line could start a catastrophic fire in its 40- to 50-year lifetime,” she said. “Who needs that?”
“The CPUC administrative law judges assigned to the project have flatly rejected the line based on the record in this case,” Conklin said. “Now there are two more alternate decisions — one that would condition the line to carry renewables and one that would allow the line without any conditions. Both focus on a southern route, but either alternate decision is the wrong decision.
“That line, which ends in Sycamore Canyon, could be back our way through Ramona in a few years when SDG&E wants to go north to the LA market. We want folks to know that. They need to see the documentary and then let the governor and the CPUC know they don’t want any line, anywhere, because it’s unsafe and it’s not needed.”
Expandability has been an issue raised in the evidentiary hearings on the power line project and SDG&E has said the issue is important for future plans, Conklin said. The CPUC is poised to decide the issue on Dec. 18.
The more than 600 towers that make up the Sunrise Powerlink power line would cross through the Cleveland National Forest, along with numerous open spaces and southern San Diego communities. Controversial industrial wind and solar projects proposed for fragile and protected areas are also associated with the line, along with the potential for more fossil fuel fired power plants in Mexico.
All of these ingredients make up one of the longest pitched battles over energy in San Diego.
A Question of Power takes a hard look at the issues: How should electricity be generated? Who should own or control the decision-making process? Should hundreds of huge transmission towers be built through the county, marching their way to the sea, through the Cleveland National Forest, and through fire-prone wildlands and communities? Should more energy be imported from Mexico? Or should energy be produced locally from San Diego’s renowned sunshine on rooftop arrays — along with other sustainable alternatives — to power the city and the area?
Thousands have become involved in the fight over this precedent-setting transmission line project and its national ramifications, said Conklin. This compelling and persuasive documentary, produced by regular folks, lays out both arguments and solutions.
It is a timely crash course about electricity, the role of business interests and profits, achievable and affordable alternatives, global warming, environmental protection, and increased burdens on utility rate payers who will pay for the $1 billion-plus line.
“Most importantly, it is about how ordinary people have joined forces and taken extraordinary actions to change the energy future of Southern California,” said Conklin.
Stubborn Mule Productions is the production arm of Backcountry Against the Dump Inc., a 501(c)(4) nonprofit public benefit corporation.
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