In the San Diego region, wind power is not just a vision of the future; it’s a reality today. However, further development of this clean and renewable source of energy can’t happen without the critical infrastructure needed to connect proposed energy generation projects to the electric grid.
San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) East County Substation Project (ECO), which will meet this need and deliver wind generation power to the San Diego region, has taken a major step forward.
The California Public Utilities Commission has deemed complete the application to construct the ECO Substation Project. This decision, reached October 2, signals the official kick-off of the public approval process for this much anticipated renewable energy hub.
“The ECO substation by SDG&E will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help San Diego and California lead the nation in clean energy,” said Campo resident Randy Lenac. “Local jobs, reliability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions are a win-win scenario for everyone.”
ECO, a planned 500-kV electric substation in East County near Jacumba – a key region of largely untapped wind energy potential – will connect to the existing Southwest Powerlink electric transmission line. The project includes four main components:
- Facilitating Renewable Energy Development – The state-of-the-art ECO substation will connect to future wind farms and other renewable energy projects.
- Improving Reliability – The plan also calls for rebuilding the existing 50-year old Boulevard substation. Local communities such as Jacumba, Boulevard, Campo, Bankhead Springs, Live Oak Springs, and the Campo, La Posta and Manzanita Indian Reservations will benefit from improved energy reliability when the current Boulevard station is modernized.
- Delivering Clean Energy – The two substations will be connected by a new 13-mi, 138- kV transmission line to improve reliability and transmit renewable energy to the Southwest Powerlink.
- Managing The Electric System In Real Time – SDG&E will add new communications equipment at a facility near Boulevard to help improve remote system management.
It’s no secret that San Diego is in a region where the sun is usually shining and the wind is often blowing. The challenge has always been to harness that energy so that it can provide us with clean, reliable electricity.
A growing recognition of the need to educate the public on wind energy potential and benefits throughout the country spawned National Wind Power Day, which was celebrated on October 24. SDG&E sponsored and participated in the “Bright Green Future Conference” at UC San Diego on October 23 and 24 as part of its observance of National Wind Power Day.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has indentified portions of eastern San Diego County, Imperial County and the northern Baja region as having some of the highest concentrations in the country of potential solar, wind and geothermal energy. Recent studies indicate that this mega-region could become a global showcase for clean energy with a potential of more than 12,000 MW of renewable electricity, with nearly 3,500 MW from wind power alone.
Plans to harness some of that energy potential are already on tap. In June, the Campo Band of Mission Indians of the Kumeyaay Nation, Invenergy and SDG&E jointly announced a plan to build on tribal lands a wind energy project capable of generating up to 160 MW of renewable power, or enough clean energy to power 104,000 homes. This joint project will be the Campo tribe’s second wind generation facility and is expected to offset as much as 145,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually. Meteorological towers have been installed to measure wind data, a necessary step to site the new phase of wind generators.
SDG&E has already contracted 26 percent of its power supply for 2012 to be delivered from renewable energy, which puts the company on schedule to comply with an Executive Order by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger requiring utilities to supply 33 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2020.
Visit the ECO Substation Project for more information.