Imperial Valley to San Diego
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) partnered with Southwest Strategies to form the Community Alliance for the Sunrise Powerlink, a coalition of 100,000 residents, elected officials, businesses and labor leaders in support of the Sunrise Powerlink project.
Project: Sunrise Powerlink
Expertise: Coalition Building
Location: Imperial Valley to San Diego
“Southwest Strategies played a critical role in developing a targeted and effective public outreach strategy and message platform that helped us build a broad-based third party coalition that was instrumental in securing regulatory approvals for the Sunrise Powerlink.”
Project Manager, Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Line, SDG&E
SDG&E, the public utility that provides energy service to 3.6 million people in San Diego and southern Orange counties, hired us to build support and secure approvals for the Sunrise Powerlink, a controversial 117-mile transmission line designed to transport renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. Considered one of the most contentious infrastructure projects in California’s history, the Sunrise Powerlink project generated considerable opposition that required extensive community outreach and coalition building efforts.
Working closely with SDG&E, we planned a comprehensive community engagement and outreach campaign built around a coalition of supporters. Organizing the coalition included developing branding and messaging, and identifying key influencers. Given the project’s large area, it was also important to identify the best tactics to communicate with the broad array of stakeholders early in the planning stages.
We successfully formed and launched the Community Alliance for the Sunrise Powerlink (CASP), which throughout the project grew to 100,000 residents, elected officials, businesses and labor leaders who supported the project. To support the coalition, our team developed CASP fact sheets, newsletters, a website and brochures, as well as an advertising campaign. Specific activities included a series of open houses, one-on-one briefings, sponsorships at key community events and a business door-to-door walk. These activities also included developing fact sheets, maintaining a website, distributing newsletters and forming community councils to establish a two-way dialogue with residents.
Through our coalition, we helped win project approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Following the project’s approval, we conducted construction outreach and continued to mobilize CASP at key milestones. Due in large part to the public affairs effort, the project was completed on schedule and energized in June 2012. Our community outreach program for the project also netted four local and national awards from the Public Relations Society of America.