National Award Recognizes SDG&E Environmental Monitoring Program

Apr 3, 2013

SAN DIEGO, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was recognized with a National Environmental Excellence Award for the electronic environmental monitoring and compliance tools it used during the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink. The award for Best Available Technology was presented yesterday at the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) conference in Los Angeles.

During the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink, approximately 160 environmental and cultural monitors from a variety of disciplines, such as biological, avian, cultural, storm water and hazardous materials, were deployed daily to safeguard the resources where the 117-mile transmission line was constructed.  To facilitate communication and information sharing, many of our monitors were outfitted with a hand-held tablet computer that communicated with the entire project team through web based technologies.  What once would have taken a week to disseminate and required field personnel to carry reams of paper and maps was loaded onto mobile PCs and accessible at their fingertips from anywhere on the project.   

"SDG&E placed safety and environmental compliance at the forefront of this project," said Pam Fair, SDG&E chief environmental officer and vice president of environmental and operations support. "The technology, tools and processes we put in place helped to manage the extensive restrictions in the area resulting in very few non-compliance incidents during the two-year project."

The monitoring tools used One-Touch PM technology, a Google Earth-based system that leveraged GIS technologies, GPS and mobile computing developed by the engineering firm Burns & McDonnell. In the field, avian monitors used the tablet computers to note bird nesting areas, while biological monitors noted sightings of sensitive vegetation and wildlife and cultural monitors outlined areas of cultural or archaeological significance to be avoided. All of the information was uploaded daily and then used by project managers to inform the daily work, resulting in one integrated team.

"Without the use of the technology tools such as the pentabs, GPS and OneTouch PM we wouldn't have been able to keep up with the construction schedule and monitor compliance as effectively," said Alan Colton, environmental manager for the Sunrise Powerlink project. "For example, we had approximately 33 helicopters working during peak construction and nest buffers that needed to be avoided.  Those pilots, along with all the other members of our project team, relied on up to date information about work restrictions associated with sensitive resources to maintain compliance, protect resources, and keep the project moving forward and on budget."

Sunrise Powerlink was energized in June 2012 and delivers reliable, renewable energy from California's Imperial Valley to customers in San Diego and Southern Orange County. The project itself has been recognized as Engineering News Record (ENR) California's Project of the Year and received the American Council of Engineering Companies of California's highest honor, the Golden State Award.

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 860,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.  Connect with SDG&E's Customer Contact Center at 800-411-7343, on Twitter (@SDGE) and Facebook.


SOURCE San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)

For further information: Gina Jacobs, San Diego Gas & Electric, (877) 866-2066,, Twitter: @sdge