Imperial Valley Press Online by Nicolas Taborek Though the Imperial Irrigation District dropped out of talks to build a renewable energy transmission line from the Imperial Valley to the coast nearly two years ago, its one-time negotiating partner, Citizens Energy, is still a committed part of the project. The non-profit group will partner with San Diego Gas & Electric to finance the construction of half the Imperial County portion of the Sunrise Powerlink, Citizens Energy Chief Operating Officer Peter Smith said Thursday. After the line’s completion a portion of Citizens Energy’s profits from the deal will go toward low-income energy programs that will benefit Imperial Valley residents, he said. “Despite IID’s backing out we still wanted to have a role,” Smith said. Though construction on the 120-mile line is yet to begin, SDG&E expects the $1.9 billion line to start service in 2012. IID spokesman Kevin Kelley portrayed the construction of the line as positive for the Imperial Valley. “IID has always been for this project. We were for it when we were a partner and we continued to support the construction of this line to deliver renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to the coast once we were no longer a partner,” he said. The main reason the IID ended negotiations about the partnership in 2007 was a disagreement about the route the line would take to the coast, Kelley said. “IID was very concerned about the impact of a northern route for the Green Path South [on] its ratepayers,” he said. The approved plan for the Sunrise Powerlink, however, calls for the line to follow the route that the IID favored. While regulatory hurdles remain, SDG&E thinks it could break ground this year. “This is a critical part of our ability to meet the state’s objectives in renewables,” Jim Avery, a senior vice president with the company, said of the project.