City offering free transportation for residents to the CPUC’s Oct. 13 meeting in Long Beach
By Allison Jarrell
City officials are asking residents who are opposed to San Diego Gas & Electric’s substation expansion in town to contact the California Public Utilities Commission and voice their support for a proposed alternative location in Laguna Niguel.
Even though SDG&E’s South Orange County Reliability Enhancement (SOCRE) project isn’t on the CPUC’s agenda this Thursday, Oct. 13, city officials said the meeting, which will take place in Long Beach, is a good opportunity for the public to voice concerns with the project during public comment.
That’s because Thursday’s meeting marks the last couple weeks that residents can contact the CPUC about the project before a final determination is made by the commission at its Oct. 27 meeting in San Francisco.
SDG&E is proposing to rebuild and upgrade a portion of its transmission infrastructure in San Juan Capistrano. The project aims to create a redundant electrical system that would rely on two substations rather than just the current facility in Talega. SDG&E initially filed the proposal for the project about four years ago with the CPUC.
In April 2016, a Final Environmental Impact Review for the project was released, which included a new “environmentally superior” project option, called Alternative J. Rather than expanding in San Juan, the alternative involves the expansion of SDG&E’s existing Trabuco substation in Laguna Niguel “to add an additional source of 230-kV power into the South Orange County 138-kV transmission system.”
The FEIR concluded that Alternative J at the Trabuco substation was the best alternative to SDG&E’s proposal. The document also lists two “significant and unavoidable adverse environmental impacts” for the initial proposal in San Juan, which are related to air emissions and cultural resources.
During the Oct. 4 City Council meeting, city staff noted during an update on the project that while the City Council and city staff cannot address the CPUC on Oct. 13, the meeting is open to the public and community members can attend and speak during the public comment portion.
Staff reported that the city will be sending written comments to the CPUC on Oct. 17 and will provide comments supporting the proposed alternative at the Oct. 27 meeting in San Francisco.
“This is really the last leg of a long race, and the city has invested a great deal of time and money,” said City Manager Ben Siegel. “The good news is, we have a favorable proposed decision from an administrative law judge. That decision is also consistent with the environmentally preferred alternative that came out of the CEQA process, which is Alternative J, the project site in Laguna Niguel. Unfortunately, there is a PUC commissioner who has an alternative proposed decision, which would put it in the middle of an established residential neighborhood at a historic site in San Juan Capistrano.
“We think that we have a strong argument,” Siegel continued. “We think that we have facts on our side, but this is really the time for the community to get involved and contact the PUC.”
The city is providing free transportation to the Oct. 13 meeting in Long Beach, which begins at 9:30 a.m. The bus is set to arrive at Serra Park, located at Santa Rosalia and Calle Bonita, at 7:30 a.m. and return by 1 p.m. For residents planning to travel to the meeting on their own, the address for the Commission Council Chambers is: 4801 Airport Plaza Drive in Long Beach.
Residents with questions about the meeting and transportation options can call the city at 949.443.6315.
Those who cannot attend the Oct. 13 meeting can still contact the CPUC regarding the expansion by emailing the CPUC public advisor at email@example.com or mailing correspondence to the attention of the Public Advisor’s Office at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102.