SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday (Dec. 9) celebrated the groundbreaking of the 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. Spanning from Imperial County to San Diego, the 500 kilovolt transmission line will have the capacity to deliver enough clean energy to power 650,000 homes, and is expected to create approximately 2,000 direct jobs.

“The construction of the Sunrise Powerlink is a huge win for the people of California,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This transmission line opens the door for additional green investments and job creation in the Imperial Valley, while helping us meet our renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and improving the reliability of our power grid. It is these types of big, bold projects California needs to transition to a clean energy future.”

The construction of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line will help facilitate the development of renewable energy projects such as solar, wind and geothermal located in the Imperial Valley by providing a new transportation outlet to move the electricity produced from these projects to population centers. The development of new renewable energy projects will create new jobs and economic growth in the Imperial Valley. In fact, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) estimates the Sunrise Powerlink will create 400 to 500 direct construction jobs and an additional 1,500 permanent jobs for ongoing maintenance and operation of the transmission line.

The project underwent a five-year environmental review and permitting process and has received approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service. With project construction beginning this month, the line will begin service in 2012.

California has consistently led the nation in renewable energy development. The state currently has over 270 renewable energy projects, totaling approximately 70,000 MW, seeking to build and run facilities in the Golden State. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved seven large-scale solar projects totaling nearly 3,500 MW in clean, renewable energy that either have or likely will start construction in California by the end of this year. This includes the 709-MW Imperial Valley project located in Imperial County which will require a peak construction workforce of 731, with another 164 operational jobs once built, and is expected to deliver power through the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

These projects are part of a group of nine solar thermal projects scheduled to go before the CEC for decisions by the end of the year in order to qualify for federal stimulus dollars. If all nine projects are approved, more than 4,300 MW of solar power will be added to our grid, providing more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.

Additionally, there are 12 large wind and photovoltaic projects working to break ground in California. On top of being home to the world’s largest solar energy project, California is also home to the world’s largest wind energy project, the Alta Wind Energy Center. According to Terra-Gen Power, the Alta Wind Energy Center will increase wind industry jobs in California by 20 percent, creating more than 1,500 domestic manufacturing, construction and operation and maintenance jobs and contributing more than $600 million to the local economy in Kern County. The Center will also increase the installed wind power capacity in California by 30 percent. Generating 1,550 MW of clean, renewable energy, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 52 million metric tons, the equivalent to taking 446,000 cars off the road and result in $1.2 billion in direct local economic benefits over the life of the project.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a strong and proven commitment to expanding California’s clean energy development that will create jobs, influence national policies and provide a cleaner environment for future generations. In March, the Governor signed into law a new program to make it easier to conserve land for endangered species and for developers to build renewable energy projects in California. The program, created by SB X8 34, will help further streamline and expedite the permitting and siting process for large-scale renewable energy projects that will provide jobs and greater energy independence and help attract investment. Other actions to promote clean, renewable energy in California include:
Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS): In 2007, the Governor established the world’s first LCFS. California’s LCFS requires fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels sold in the state, dramatically expanding the market for alternative fuels. To start, the LCFS will reduce carbon content in all passenger vehicle fuels sold in California by at least 10 percent by 2020 and more thereafter.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS): In 2009, the Governor signed an Executive Order directing the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to adopt regulations increasing the state’s RPS to 33 percent by 2020. The ARB adopted regulations earlier this year that place the highest priority on renewable resources that will provide the greatest environmental benefits that can be developed quickly and support reliable, efficient and cost-effective electricity system operations including resources and facilities located in California and throughout the Western Interconnection.

Million Solar Roofs Initiative: The Governor’s $3.3 billion incentive plan for home and building owners who install solar electric systems, now known as the California Solar Initiative, will lead to one million solar roofs in California by the year 2018, provide 3,000 megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons.
Green Tech Sales Tax Exemption: Governor Schwarzenegger championed SB 71 to exempt all clean technology manufacturing equipment from sales tax, allowing California to maintain a competitive edge by expanding the range of projects. This targeted sales tax exemption does not cost the state tax dollars and increases revenue by expanding the number of clean technology manufacturing companies with sites in California.