Jul 29, 2014

SDG&E Plans $450M Jolt to Power Grid

The utility wants to initiate huge upgrades to local switching stations to keep the lights on in South County during disasters and maintenance.

SDG&E Plans $450M Jolt to Power Grid SDG&E Plans $450M Jolt to Power Grid SDG&E Plans $450M Jolt to Power Grid SDG&E Plans $450M Jolt to Power Grid

By 2017, revamped switching stations in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente will be pumping more voltage to power south OC's flat screens, fridges and stereos.

At least, that's San Diego Gas & Electric's plan--the blueprints and financing still need government approval.

"Even though we have energy-efficient appliances, we're using a lot more energy than we were 30 years ago," said SDG&E spokesman Duane Cave. "The population of Orange County went from 2 million to 3 million, but the electricity usage has gone from 190 megawatts to 490 megawatts."

The project also calls for two big backup conduits to ensure South County doesn't go black if the Talega switching station at the end of Pico gets whacked by an earthquake, or fire knocks out the station in San Juan, said SDG&E officials.

The utility held an open house at Mission San Juan on Wednesday afternoon to explain the project to the public--one of several public meetings SDG&E has in the pipeline related to the project.

The $450-million project is just now coming up for review by the California Public Utilities Commission. It will be 18 months to two years before workers start hauling their tools up in cherry-pickers, Cave said.

"All public meetings will be announced as the project goes on," Cave said.

SDG&E customers will pay a little more than 50 percent of the cost, while the rest will be shared by all of California's electricity customers because of the increase in voltage and reliability, Cave said.

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