SDG&E’s Infrastructure Upgrade Providing Clean and Reliable Power

San Diego’s substation upgrade will improve service reliability and also serve as interconnection point for renewable resources.
Published: Thu 05 Feb 2015

San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) new East County (ECO) Substation project has been energized and is now operating as an integral part of the utility’s electric transmission system.

Upgrade enhances electric reliability

The project includes a new 23ha (58 acre) state-of-the-art substation in the East County community of Jacumba, an upgraded substation in Boulevard and a 22 km (14 mile) transmission line connecting the two substations. The ECO Substation project has been designed to enhance electric reliability in the region, as well as to help facilitate the delivery of renewable wind and solar energy to SDG&E customers.

Construction began on the approximately US$435 million project in May 2013 and the 500kV transmission substation in Jacumba was completed about one year later in June 2014. Construction recently wrapped up on the reconstruction and modernization of the existing Boulevard substation which was built more than 60 years ago.

Both the reconstructed Boulevard substation and new 138kV transmission line connecting the two new substations have been placed into service.The ECO Substation project interconnects with the existing 500kV Southwest Powerlink transmission line, strengthening this part of the transmission system.

Delivering more clean energy

According to David L. Geier, vice president of electric transmission and system engineering for SDG&E, the ECO Substation project is a “vital reliability addition” to their local transmission system and it will improve the level of service to their customers in the eastern part of the county. He adds that the project will also help in meeting California's aggressive renewable energy goals by facilitating the development of renewable energy in the region.

In a recent article, California Invests in its Clean Energy Future, Engerati writes about California’s investment of nearly half a billion dollars in electricity research and development in alternative fuels.

California has ordered electricity retailers to provide 33% renewable power by 2020. The goal has set off a building boom in solar and wind projects, and supporting transmission lines that have transformed vast stretches of Southern California's deserts into “powerhouses”.

Jim Avery, senior vice president for power supply at SDG&E says the company is closing in quickly on its renewable energy goals by putting the appropriate transmission infrastructure in place in order to harness the natural resources such as the sun and wind.

Much of the new renewable power is flowing across the Sunrise Powerlink, a 188km (117 mile) transmission line running eastwards from San Diego. The line was completed in 2012 at a cost of US$1.8 billion to utility customers across the state.

SDG&E has signed at least three dozen contracts for new solar and wind power plants located outside Borrego Springs in San Diego County and in Kern, Riverside and Imperial counties. Wind facilities include more than 100 turbines straddling I-8 at the town of Ocotillo. The Sunrise line currently accommodates more than 900MW of renewable energy capacity flowing from the Imperial Valley.

SDG&E provides energy to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and over 860,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles.