Key filing launches regulatory review process for Sunrise Powerlink

Environmental analysis part of updated transmission line application

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Stephanie Donovan

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066

www.sdge.com

 

        SAN DIEGO, Aug. 4, 2006 – One day after getting approval from the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) for its proposed Sunrise Powerlink electric-transmission line project, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today is filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) an updated application and environmental assessment of the project. 

        The Cal-ISO is responsible for maintaining the reliability of the statewide power system. The Cal-ISO’s board of governors’ determination of the need for the project is a key piece of SDG&E’s filing, which formally launches the CPUC’s regulatory review process.  The line between San Diego and Imperial counties will deliver 1,000 megawatts of electricity to improve energy reliability in the region, help SDG&E and other utilities in California meet the state’s renewable resources goal, and reduce overall energy costs for customers.

        “Today’s filing is the result of nearly a year of extensive engineering and environmental studies and in-field analysis of various route options, as well as analysis of alternatives other than transmission,” said James P. Avery, senior vice president-electric for SDG&E.  “When we announced the proposed route options in March, we said we expected changes based on community input and what we found during our assessment, and that has happened.  We have continued to work with local, state and federal agencies – as well as the affected communities – to refine our preferred route and alternatives to reduce the overall impacts of the project.”

        With a more precisely defined preferred route, SDG&E also has developed a more detailed estimate of the length and cost of the line.  The line will cover about 150 miles from Imperial Valley to coastal San Diego.  The additional length of the route – about 30 miles – is due mainly to a change in the desert link portion, which is proposed to travel a more easterly path through Imperial County.  The projected cost of the project is approximately $1.26 billion – about midway in the range estimated in SDG&E’s initial route announcement on March 20, 2006.  The cost, which covers the entire length of the line from Imperial Valley to San Diego, will be shared by all Cal-ISO customers.  SDG&E’s customers’ portion is 10 percent.  The Sunrise Powerlink is projected to cut overall energy costs for SDG&E customers by more than $100 million per year by reducing the company’s reliance on older, less-efficient local power plants and offering access to competitively priced power outside the county.

        In addition to filing its environmental report, SDG&E amended its application with developments since the application was first submitted in December 2005, including information about its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Imperial Irrigation District to build a portion of the line.  

        The results of the environmental study of the Sunrise project are detailed in the Proponent’s Environmental Assessment (PEA) document.  Although the CPUC relies somewhat on SDG&E’s PEA, the regulatory agency will conduct its own environmental review, along with the federal Bureau of Land Management, and solicit public input on the siting of the line.

        “In this updated filing, we have tried to reflect a balance between meeting the region’s energy needs from a feasibility and reliability standpoint, while also addressing customer and agency concerns to mitigate potential environmental impacts,” said Avery.

        The regulatory process that starts with today’s filing also includes hearings on the need and benefits of the project, which take place on a separate track from the commission’s environmental review.  The entire process could take approximately one year and will include many more opportunities for public input.  A final CPUC decision is expected in mid-2007.

        Updated maps and SDG&E’s project application are available to view and/or download at www.sdge.com/sunrisepowerlink.  The detailed environmental report will be posted on the Web site by early next week.

        San Diego Gas & Electric is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.3 million electric meters and more than 825,000 natural gas meters.  The utility’s service area spans 4,100 square miles and serves customers in more than 125 communities from Southern Orange County to the Mexican border.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).  Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.  To learn more, go to www.sdge.com.

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San Diego Gas & Electric , Sempra Energy