Saturday, September 08, 2007

factfinding excursion to Anza-Borrego for Sunrise Powerlink

The Sunrise Powerlink is a controversial project to send a 500 kilovolt transmission line to San Diego. Part of the line's proposed route would go through the middle of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Because the proposal's so controversial, it's hard to get solid information amidst the chaff. So Coppertop and I decided we'd figure out the power line's proposed route and then head over to the desert and see where it goes for our selves. And take pictures along the way.

It's the off season for the park right now, and with good reason: temps were in the 100F range, and the desert isn't especially exciting now what with the lack of rain and high heat. Apparently wildflower season is February. Also, the rangers recommended against hiking due to the heat, and against driving on the dirt roads due to our lack of four wheel drive, their surplus of ruts and rocks, and the unlikelihood of anyone else being on those roads to give us a lift if we broke down. So we drove a number of highways that intercept the proposed paths and took pictures along them.

OK, hopefully this'll work correctly: if you want to follow along, you can find a Google Map here.

California Highway 78 and County Highway S3
You can get a real sense of the vastness of the desert landscape here.


Along Highway 78 (33° 8'35.98"N, 116°16'28.22"W)

There is an existing transmission line that goes through the park, along with some distribution lines, but they're much lower voltage and made of wood, not the steel towers necessary to carry a 500 kV line. You can see some of the poles to the left of the road in this shot.

The park, at least in this area, seems to become flatter as you move East.

Mid-way to Highway 2

You can see the foothills begin to build as you move west. It was around this point that it started becoming hard to imagine steel transmission line towers interrupting that sky view.

Highway 78 and County Highway S2

Here's what you see when you get to Highway 2.

County Highway 2 approaching CA-79

We're now moving north, approaching CA-79.

Mountains and big sky in the background, existing power line in the foreground.

County Highway 2 at CA-79

Finally, we've reached CA-79. This is one of the two existing substations we saw, and the distribution lines converging on it.

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