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By Emily Rasmussen

In closed session on March 6, City Council unanimously voted, with Councilwoman Pam Patterson absent, to pursue an administrative appeal of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decision to allow for demolition of the east wing of the substation building as part of the South Orange County Reliability Enhancement (SOCRE) Project by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

The SOCRE Project—which will expand the current substation in San Juan’s residential Las Brisas neighborhood by rebuilding and upgrading a portion of its transmission infrastructure—aims to create a redundant electrical system that would rely on two substations rather than just the current facility in Talega.

“Last December, the CPUC issued a Notice to Proceed (NTP) to SDG&E allowing for demolition of the east wing of the substation building as part of the SOCRE Project,” Assistant City Manager Jacob Green said in an email. “Staff invoked the city’s right to dispute resolution to prevent SDG&E from beginning demolition of the existing structure without exhausting all requirements of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) mitigation measures.”

CPUC staff agreed to review the city’s concerns and instructed SDG&E to hold off on the building demolition until a determination was issued, Green said.

“Unfortunately, the city was notified that the CPUC staff and legal counsel rejected the city’s arguments and gave SDG&E permission to proceed,” Green said in the email. “Following this CPUC communication, SDG&E submitted their application to the city for a demolition permit.”

The City Council’s position is that SDG&E has not fully complied with the Mitigation, Monitoring, Compliance and Reporting Program (MMCRP) and the EIR, Green said. A demolition permit will not be issued by the city until this issue is resolved and the city attorney’s office will work with city staff to submit the appeal to the CPUC, he said.

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