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Green power may ruin pristine land in California

Transmission lines from some green power sources would cut through forests and wildlife refuges, worrying environmental groups.

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California and the city of Los Angeles have set an ambitious goal for 'greener' power: obtain 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010.

But to do that difficult decisions need to be made. Wind, solar, and geothermal electric power produced in the rural reaches of the state must be somehow be transported to faraway cities – meaning some transmission lines must cut through national forests, wildlife refuges, and other treasured land areas.

Solar panels require the expanse and cloudless climes of desert areas, wind requires the funneling effect of mountain passes, and geothermal power is derived from hot or steamed water underground.

But how does the city get the energy to where it's needed without spoiling the pristine environments that it's trying to preserve?

"The fact of the matter is that renewable resources are from remote areas … and that is the challenge now facing California," says Stephanie McCorkle, spokeswoman for the California Independent Systems Operator. "We are trying to green the grid, and there are deadlines looming," she adds. "Transmission lines are the missing link. Where do we put them? That is what we have to decide."

It's all part of the "California greenin' " vision being trumpeted loudly and often by officials from Sacramento to Los Angeles. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has put the state in the forefront of developing alternative energy resources while Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make America's second-largest city "the greenest and cleanest city in America."

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