San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has filed for approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to relocate the company’s existing South Bay substation in Chula Vista to a site south of the South Bay Power Plant to open up public access to the waterfront. Relocation of the substation is a key milestone that will be coordinated with the retirement and demolition of the power plant once the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) determines the plant no longer is needed for reliability in the region.
“We are committed to helping Chula Vista realize its vision of a redeveloped bay front, while also ensuring the reliability of our system in the future,” said David L. Geier, vice president of electric transmission and distribution for SDG&E. “The relocation of the substation will allow us to replace 50-year-old, obsolete infrastructure with state-of-the-art equipment and to build-in system upgrades necessary to meet the ongoing growth in energy demand in the South Bay.”
The project involves upgrading the 138/69-kV system to 230/69 kV to tie in to the Otay Metro Powerloop, and the property includes room to accommodate the future addition of a 69/12-kV distribution facility to serve demand growth in the South Bay region – what the Cal-ISO calls a unique opportunity to bolster the reliability of SDG&E’s system.
The Cal-ISO board of governors has endorsed the project as a necessary and cost-effective, long-term addition to the transmission system to address potential system shortfalls once the old power plant is shut down.
Executive director Laura Hunter of the Environmental Health Coalition also supports the project for its benefits to land-use and habitat protection. “We have been deeply engaged in the re-planning of the bay front,” said Hunter. “Relocation of the substation to the south will allow increased access to the waterfront for local residents and will increase protections for marine life and the water quality of the bay.”
“Removal of the existing substation is a critical component that will help maximize the opportunity for our bay front master plan to reach its full potential and create the wildlife habitat and public amenities our community has been planning for more than a decade,” said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, who, along with the City Council Energy Subcommittee, has urged the CPUC to support SDG&E’s filing.
The San Diego Unified Port District also plays a key role in this positive step toward bay front redevelopment. In exchange for SDG&E’s easements on the existing substation site, the Port District will provide the land required for the new substation through an exchange agreement with the State Lands Commission and SDG&E.
“The relocation of the substation will help advance the Chula Vista Bay Front Master Plan as well as provide more public access, amenities and economic growth opportunities in the south bay,” said Port Commissioner Chairman Robert “Dukie” Valderrama.
The CPUC proceeding will include a review of SDG&E’s environmental assessment of the project; a final decision is expected sometime next year.