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Sunrise Powerlink: Our Connection to a Clean Energy Future

“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 coalition that was instrumental in securing regulatory approvals for the Sunrise Powerlink.”

–Laura McDonald, Project Manager, Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Line, SDG&E

Bottom Line: Southwest Strategies worked hand in hand with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to successfully build support and secure state and federal approvals for the Sunrise Powerlink, a controversial $1.88 billion, 117-mile, 500,000-volt transmission line designed to transport renewable energy from Imperial County to San Diego.


Key Players

  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Regional elected officials
  • Communities of Imperial Valley, Campo, Boulevard, Jacumba, Alpine, Lakeside
  • Labor leaders
  • Local business
  • Environmental groups

Our Challenge

SDG&E, the public utility that provides energy service to 3.6 million people in San Diego and southern California, had a big problem with its latest infrastructure project, the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. Local stakeholders quickly organized to rally against the project, making the Sunrise Powerlink the most contentious infrastructure project in California’s history.


Southwest Strategies was hired to help create a strategic public affairs plan that would educate stakeholders, expand regional support and ultimately secure final project approvals.

Approvals Needed:


U.S. Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management


Every major environmental group

Several communities

Our Solution


In July 2006, Southwest Strategies helped launch a regional support coalition called the Community Alliance for Sunrise Powerlink (CASP). Our team helped SDG&E develop a comprehensive engagement and outreach campaign that could tackle the varying stakeholder needs of the project’s large area.

  • Conducted news conferences and media outreach
  • Launched comprehensive eblast program
  • Develop a comprehensive engagement and outreach campaign
  • Delivered letters of support signed by officials in varying counties
  • Gained political support from major stakeholders


Due in large part to the public affairs effort, the Sunrise Powerlink energized in June 2012. Today, the line is helping California reach its renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and improving the reliability of our power grid.

429 project advocates

372 support letters to City Council

City Council approval

Dedicated to Strategy

Our expertise, strategic guidance and innovative approach have made Southwest Strategies California’s leading public affairs and public outreach firm. Our clients come to us because we work harder, we produce more – and we get results. We design creative strategies to solve the complex issues that our clients – large and small – face every day. Let us put our knowledge, capabilities and creativity to work for you.

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