Southern California Farmers Fight Against Green Energy Plan That Would Seize Their Land

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Growers and ranchers in the southern reaches of California are posing the latest obstacle to the state's push for green power.

Facing the possibility of losing land to power transmission lines, they have urged state commissioners to avoid their property when selecting a route for a project linking consumers on the coast to renewable energy operations in the Southern California desert.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. contends that stringing high-voltage lines over agricultural land in San Diego and Imperial counties as part of its $1.5-billion Sunrise Powerlink project is the most secure and economic way to deliver wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Farmers counter that utility profits from the project would come at their expense.

"They're going to come in and pay a few thousand dollars for the land they're taking and that's all you get. You lose the revenue from that land forever," said Katie Moretti, whose family has raised cattle for more than a century in San Diego County.