SDG&E receives USFS approval for fire safety enhancement project

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6 April 2016, Gas, Electricity

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This final "record of decision" from the USFS is a key step - allowing SDG&E to move forward with plans to fire-harden existing electrical facilities on forest land to reduce the wildfire risk and to improve overall system safety and reliability.

"These projects are a cornerstone of SDG&E's community fire safety efforts to protect the highest fire-risk areas throughout the county," said David L. Geier, SDG&E's vice president of electric transmission and engineering planning. "We understand that our customers expect reliable service no matter where they live. By fire-hardening these lines, we not only will mitigate the fire hazard, but also will enhance the electrical service reliability in these communities."

Over the past decade, SDG&E has been working closely with the USFS on plans for a number of projects to replace or underground the 69-kilovolt (kV) and 12-kV electric lines that now serve customers in the area in and around the forest.

Since the 1940s, SDG&E has been operating and maintaining a network of electrical facilities in the Cleveland National Forest. As new facilities were installed, new permits were required, which resulted in a total of 70 separate permits. The USFS' decision will clarify SDG&E's land rights and facilitate SDG&E's operations within the forest to improve reliability for customers.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has formally acknowledged the USFS' action. The CPUC still must approve and issue a permit to SDG&E to construct the proposed projects, which include rebuilding several existing 69- and 12- kV electric lines spread throughout an approximately 880-square mile area in eastern San Diego County.

The CNF project is part of the utility's ongoing wood-to-steel effort, which involves replacing existing wood poles with stronger wind- and fire-resistant, weatherized steel poles. Once this project is completed, SDG&E will have fire-hardened 80 percent of the power lines in the county's fire threat zone. A CPUC decision is expected sometime this spring.

Source: MarketLine

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