CPUC Approves SDG&E Transmission in Record Time

By Published On: July 2, 2005

The California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light to San Diego Gas & Electric?s plans to construct two new 230 kV transmission circuits totaling 52 miles of lines connecting three utility substations in San Diego County. The commission granted SDG&E a certificate of public convenience and necessity and certified the final environmental impact report for the Otay Mesa Power Purchase Agreement Transmission Project. CPUC president Mike Peevey noted that the CPUC was approving a transmission line in a record 15 months, dispensing with the lengthy delays of the past. The CPUC determined that the economic benefits of the project, which will deliver power to fuel economic growth and expansion in the region, outweighed its projected $209.8 million total price tag. Moreover, the commission concluded that the transmission project would not create any significant adverse environmental impacts that could not be mitigated. The transmission project is needed to relieve transmission congestion, avoid potential cascading power outages, provide expansion capability for load growth, meet reliability criteria, minimize load shedding, and reduce reliability-must-run costs, the CPUC found. The California Energy Commission approved construction of the Otay Mesa power plant last year. However, the CPUC is currently conducting a rehearing on the Otay Mesa contract. Commissioner Geoffrey Brown agreed that more transmission and generation are needed in rapidly expanding San Diego County. However, he noted that the CPUC normally would not approve a transmission line before approving the generating facility it is meant to serve. Since SDG&E is not required to build the Otay Mesa line, ?I presume they will hold off until this transmission line is needed,? Brown said. The city of Chula Vista initially opposed the Otay Mesa transmission project. However, in October SDG&E entered into an agreement with the city to underground a portion of the transmission line in the Chula Vista Bayfront, where a 540-acre waterfront park and upscale shopping area are being developed. Altogether, 10 miles of transmission lines will be underground, while 42 miles will be overhead lines. The project will be divided into six different segments.

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