Friday, January 15, 2010

Pillar of the Community Busks to Fund Lawsuits

That's right, I am a pillar of the community, anonymously and invisibly. However I did agree to play a sort of gig prior to a town hall meeting here in East County. That is boondock hilly mountain region of SD county.

My partners in musical crime are heavily versed and involved in the effort to thwart a very devious and dishonest scheme being perpetrated by the public utilities board and SDGE in very southern CA. The catchy, happy go lucky name of the project is Sunrise Power Link. It is supposed to provide power from "sustainable, renewable sources" like wind sun, and maybe cow flatulence. A wonderful project to bring GREEn energy to Caleeforneeya del Sud.

The reasons my neighbors are not pleased are myriad. One primary concern is that they'd run the lines right through Ballistic Mountain. These aren't like regular lines, they are very large towers carrying something like 500,000volt lines. In that range you run into electro-magnetic issues, some of which are suspected to influence humans on the cellular level, promoting not such good results. But that is only a fringe concern.

Before I list the highlights of the scam, let me tell you about the busking. My compadres wanted to play a bit before the meeting, just acoustically at the entrance to the community center. They laid their guitar cases on the ground and I saw the chance to live the dream. I always wanted to play on the sidewalk with a hat or open guitar case for people to drop in tips. I convinced Kevin to leave his case open, and toss in a few dollars of shill money--give the people the idea.

It worked, we raised a double digit figure to contribute to the legal efforts now underway to squelch this tyrannical boondoggle.

The project is being touted as something to bring clean energy to SD county in a way that will be wonderful for all. Here's the real story:

* By their own data, SDGE does not actually need this, as it has been shown that they cut back supply purposely to simulate shortages that don't exist

* The actual hookup is to unregulated plants across the border in the Baja which are oil and gas fired plants.

* the proposed path of the lines looks like a gerrymandering scheme for congressional districts. It zigzags everywhere, and could be run down the median or side of I-8, but some other agency doesn't want that.

*Plan A was a route north of here and while pushing that they said they'd never run it here.

*they claimed the board hearings on this were open to the public yet the neglected to let any public know about their meetings.

*Locals found out the plan when surveyors showed up on their property. More than one property owner ran them off

*they got caught by Mexican officials bribing other Mexican officials to secure that end of things.

*they actually plan to run the power to LA, not San Diego as advertised.

All these things are fact, not conjecture.

They'd go underground with the part they plan to run down the main street of Alpine. Two large underground conduits down a two lane road which is like many of the western towns, bike, pedestrian and horse friendly, small shops and businesses on either side---a nice little stretch of things.

Construction of that part would take 2 years, and the whole time it would be down to one lane. If there is a fire that will make evacuation a nightmare. It was bad enough in the past when they had to skadootle under normal conditions.

The process of erecting the towers involves a lot of water, not sure why. It also requires blasting and that could collapse the veins which feed our wells.

So many issues which SDGE clearly is not addressing and has no intention of "mitigating". They like that word, mitigate.

The meeting itself was one designed to give information and to provide a forum for people to ask questions of our county representative and SDGE. The county has no direct power over it. That goes to the state's Public Utilities Board, appointed by Arnold. He threatened to fire them if they did not ram this through. Must have skin in the game. It is not a case of logical development being opposed by modern day Luddites and people who worship all of nature except their own species.

Totally irrelevant, but I became bored with this post. Surf's up off Sunset Cliffs.

SDGE classes one issue as one which simply can't be mitigated---that is the fire danger issue. The towers and lines prevent air support in case of wild fire for a broad distance around the towers. Air support is crucial to the fire fighting procedure. That means any property near the towers is a greater risk, and could possibly be destroyed in cases which otherwise would not happen. It also means that in cases in which the spread of fire could be squelched before it got out of hand, it would have to be allowed to go unchecked.

My thinking is that from all standpoints the plan smacks of corruption. I've never been fond of long distance power transport anyway. If you don't use many local points of generation, then put a damned nuclear plant somewhere and be done with it. I also thing the waste ought not be trucked out but secured in the deep down, on site. Peeling away the knee jerk fears and emotional aspects, it turns out that nuclear is actually a better deal than most methods, when properly done. The horror stories of Chernobyl and such had mitigating circumstances which were way out of the realm of reasonable practice.

Anyway, we have a project to supply that which may not even be needed according to the power companies own data, running a route which is not only more expensive than other routes, but which disrupts more private property, and would pretty much ruin businesses in Alpine. It would transport relatively dirty energy from Mexico, which has nothing to do with the friggin windmills and such, draining more money from the US.

The path of the lines across the border apparently makes for a bad security situation and a better opportunity for people to sneak in.

So much information came out of the meeting, I was impressed. The people kept their tempers down and let the SDGE reps have all the rope they wanted to hang themselves. Townspeople were incredibly articulate and well informed. They had facts figures and data that none of the power company people could or would dispute. They just tried to side step. The county rep was obviously on the side of her constituents and couched her info without much spin, but she let them know the who, what and where if they wanted to influence the outcome of this thing.

The place was packed, maybe a couple hundred people, plus. Here I kind of thought the place was populated by California rednecks, and there are plenty. Maybe so, but they sure are a bright bunch. How many times, in a setting which fires passions, do you see a crowd like that be quiet and let people talk, even when they disagree? It was absolutely the most well conducted and most substantive town hall or civic function I've ever seen. It made me kind of proud.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
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