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By Allison Jarrell
The San Juan Capistrano City Council voted 4-1 in closed session on June 6 to file a complaint in federal court against the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regarding its decision to approve San Diego Gas & Electric’s substation expansion in a residential area of San Juan. Councilman Derek Reeve was the lone dissenter.
The Council’s vote is the latest chapter in the city’s ongoing effort to oppose the expansion of the substation, which was approved unanimously by the CPUC on Dec. 15. The expansion, which is part of SDG&E’s South Orange County Reliability Enhancement (SOCRE) project, involves rebuilding and upgrading a portion of its transmission infrastructure. The project aims to create a redundant electrical system that would rely on two substations rather than just the current facility in Talega.
At the time of the approval, CPUC commissioners said that despite concerns from some residents, the project is the best solution for ensuring greater electrical reliability in South Orange County.
Since then, the city has consistently taken steps to continue opposing the approved project. In January, the Council voted to allocate an additional $25,000 from the city’s general fund reserves to retain special legal services from the law firm of Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, as well as an extra $240,000 for additional legal services from Best, Best & Krieger (the city’s legal representation) for California Environmental Quality Act litigation.
Then on May 16, the Council voted unanimously in closed session to retain legal services from Aguirre & Severson LLP, and to draft a complaint to the CPUC. Attorney Michael Aguirre sued SDG&E in 2008 as San Diego’s city attorney and ultimately won his case against the utility.
On Thursday, city officials said there is currently no further information or documents related to the complaint that can be released other than what was reported out of the Council’s June 6 closed session. The complaint was not yet finalized and filed as of press time on Thursday.