Big checks, golden shovels and oversized scissors are just as meaningless in the long run as a ceremonial “flipping of the switch,” unless that switch is connected to the idea that the Imperial Valley is truly playing a role in the “displacement of fossil fuels” in this country.
When Tenaska’s celebrated the “official” large-scale movement of energy over the Sunrise Powerlink to San Diego Gas & Electric, it put its Calexico-area solar field on a massive map of renewable energy projects driving the weaning of the state off dirty fuels.
It is the first commercial large-scale project to send its power out over the Powerlink, but it also puts SDG&E well ahead of every other utility in the state in getting closer to reaching the state’s goal of a 33-percent green power portfolio.
We’re certainly happy for San Diego, but more importantly, we’re happy that Imperial County is the major player from where this is all happening. In all of the green events we’ve attended over the last year, the presence of California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild did a great job last week in putting the efforts of the Valley and this state into perspective in a way we hadn’t heard in a while.
He said California is now home to the largest wind, solar, geothermal and solar thermal projects in the world. “… I think we as Californians are leading the rest of the world,” he said.
Closer to home, we heard the positive and the sobering. Local electrical union officials are citing that more than 70 percent of all jobs associated with green energy are held by locals.
We are pragmatic, and understand many of those jobs are temporary, for the construction phase only. But there are more than 15 projects in the pipeline, so we’ll take those temporary positions for the time being.
There is a limit to all of this green energy building, we agree. At some point, when utilities meet their portfolio requirements, we will either slow down or find other markets. We need to build transmission lines capable of taking our power east and north.
Fossil fuels are finite, the public knows this. The renewable energy industry will be forced to grow because of that. Imperial Valley’s role in that will only be stopped by a lack of land, water and will.
There will continue to be disagreements about who benefits from the Imperial County’s renewable energy industry — the utilities from outside this area reaping the power, or the short-term jobs and taxes here. Either way, the central role we play in this industry is important to the state and the entire country.
Tenaska celebrates sending power to San Diego.
Valley has a right to feel proud of its place in this.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
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