SDG&E moves forward with major renewable energy hub

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Jennifer Briscoe

San Diego Gas & Electric

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        SAN DIEGO, Aug. 10, 2009 – Building on its commitment to pursue renewable power, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced plans to develop electrical infrastructure in east San Diego County that will connect within the company’s existing power network.  The new infrastructure will expand the company’s capability to deliver clean energy to its customers, while reducing the region’s dependence on fossil fuels. 

        The planned new substation, along with the company’s approved Sunrise Powerlink transmission line and recently announced partnership in a wind project on the Campo reservation, will help boost the emerging renewable energy industry in eastern San Diego and Imperial Counties.   SDG&E already has secured 26 percent of its power supply for 2012 from renewable energy resources, which is well ahead of the voluntary commitment the company made to supply 33 percent of its power from clean energy sources by 2020.

        “Experts agree that a lack of electrical infrastructure is the most significant barrier to tapping into the vast potential for renewable energy in this region,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer for San Diego Gas &Electric.  “This project will serve as the backbone for delivering renewable energy from the mountain region east of San Diego County for decades to come.”

        The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified portions of eastern San Diego County, Imperial County and the northern Baja California region as having some of the highest concentrations in the country of potential energy from the sun, wind and geothermal.

        At the center of this renewable energy hub is ECO, a planned new electric substation in East County near Jacumba—a key region of largely untapped renewable wind energy development—that will transmit electricity via the existing Southwest Powerlink electric transmission line.  The project, which was submitted for approval to the California Public Utilities Commission today, includes four main components:

        1. Delivering renewable power – The state-of-the-art ECO substation near Jacumba will connect future wind farms and other renewable energy projects to the Southwest Powerlink line.

        2. 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 substation is modernized.

        3. Transporting clean energy – The two substations would be connected by a new 13-mile, 138-kilovolt power line to improve reliability and transmit renewable energy to the Southwest Powerlink.

        4. 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.

        The new infrastructure would connect several planned renewable energy projects in the region, so that the energy can be delivered to San Diego. 

        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 megawatts 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.

        “SDG&E’s ECO project is going to ensure that renewable energy development like our wind project and many others become a reality,” said Monique La Chappa, Campo chairwoman.  “We are excited to expand our leadership in developing renewable energy on tribal lands and look forward to our project bringing green jobs and clean air benefits to all of San Diego County.” 

        Executive Director of the California Wind Energy Association Nancy Rader added: “This type of infrastructure is critical to delivering electricity generated by proposed wind projects in and around San Diego County.”

        Clean energy is needed to help satisfy state and federal policies that are intended to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.