San Diego Gas & Electric welcomed the announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy designating the Southwest as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.

"After months of public participation meetings and transmission-congestion studies, the Department of Energy officially has confirmed what we've known for many years - that our region has a critical shortage of electric-transmission infrastructure," said Michael R. Niggli, chief operating officer of SDG&E. "Immediate action is needed to reinforce our power grid and system reliability.

"Our proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission-line project is the most cost-effective solution to improve energy reliability, provide access to a wealth of new renewable energy resources and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions," Niggli said. "As part of state regulatory reviews, we have been working closely with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and are confident that, after all the facts are considered, the CPUC will agree with the Department of Energy's assessment and approve this critical project."

The Department of Energy's National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation in the Southwest supports what several state agencies already have determined - that San Diego needs more transmission capacity to alleviate congestion, provide access to renewable resources and to help meet future demand. The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, and the California Energy Commission both have found that the Sunrise Powerlink is needed to maintain grid reliability.

San Diego is a region with more than 3 million residents served by only one 500-kV transmission line, which was built in 1983. Since that time, the strain on the electric grid has more than doubled, yet SDG&E has not been able to add any new transmission infrastructure linking the utility's system with the rest of the state and nation. Cities of similar size to San Diego typically are served by as many as seven high-voltage transmission lines.

The Department of Energy is carrying out its responsibilities under the Federal Power Act, as enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The law authorizes the Secretary of Energy to conduct periodic national electric transmission congestion studies and to designate National Corridors if the Secretary determines it's appropriate.