117-mile, 500,000-volt transmission line improves electricity reliability, but increases concerns over fire safety for region
June 21, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced June 18 that it had completed and put into service Sunrise Powerlink, a 500,000-volt transmission line linking San Diego to Imperial Valley.
“Putting the Sunrise Powerlink into service is the final milestone in a complex and challenging energy project that ranks among the largest and most significant in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E.
- Regional Chamber of Commerce paints hopeful picture of economic recovery (Ramona Patch)
- SD Unified bringing back all laid off teachers (Voice of San Diego)
- Switching on SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink (UTSanDiego)
- New initiative launches in San Diego to reclaim science’s role in policy decisions (KPBS)
- Helix leader Rani Goyal got $56,000 severance in settlement deal (La Mesa Patch)
- The Starting Line: SDG&E’s Trojan Horse (San Diego Free Press)
- UT CEO’s last media company sold interviews (CityBeat)
- Man fatally stabbed in unincorporated La Mesa (La Mesa Patch)
- California Dems resist Gov. Brown’s welfare plans (San Jose Mercury News)
- California schools facing shorter year (Sacramento Bee)
- Viewpoint: Voters have a right to know how much loopholes are costing state (Sacramento Bee)
By Miriam Raftery
Updated June 21, 2012: The Old Fire is now 100% contained at a cost of approximately $2.3 million
June 20, 2012 (Campo) – The Old Fire has charred 995 acres and is now 90% contained. One residence burned, as well as a recreational vehicle (RV). Cause remains under investigation, however electrical and lighting have been ruled out. There are no electrical lines near the origin of the blaze on the Campo Indian Reservation, nor were there any reports of lightning, Cal Fire reports.
Will the people, the businesses, and the local governments who all know it’s the right thing to do, stand up and take the actions necessary to stop the proposed Quail Brush power plant. (In what follows, I borrowed the italicized words from Bill.)
Updated June 20, 2012 to include SDG&E's response
By Miriam Raftery
June 18, 2012 (Alpine) – A transformer fire broke out this afternoon at the site of the new Sunrise Powerlink, where the high voltage line had just been energized, Incident Page Network reports.
“I can confirm that two transformers are on fire,” said Lori Bledsoe, editor at The Alpine Sun. The transformers are taking power from the underground portion of the Powerlink and transferring the electricity into overhead lines, she added.
UPDATE July 18, 2012: SDG&E has informed ECM that the Old Fire was not started by Sunrise Powerlink. “The fire started on June 17 near Miller Valley,” Hanan Eisenman, communications manager, stated in an e-mail received June 18. “At the closest point, Sunrise is two miles away. Therefore, this has nothing to do with the Sunrise Powerlink.”
Cause of the fire, which is now over 820 acres, remains under investigation, per Cal Fire.
Update 10:05 p.m.: This fire is now 450 acres, spreading rapidly. an estimated 150 homes are threatened and the blaze is zero percent contained. A travel trailer has been destroyed.
Road closures: Old 80 x La Posta rd, Old 80 x Crestwood, Hwy 94 x Church Rd, and Crestwood 2 miles east of Golden Acorn Casino. There are 15 engine, 2 handcrews, 1 dozer, 4 airplanes, and 3 helicopters assigned. A shelter has been set up at Golden Acorn Casino. A Cal-Fire spokesman told ECM there is room in the parking lot for trailered livestock as well. An earlier report that Golden Acorn had evacuated proved incorrect.
June 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Approximately 443 households are without power as a 450-acre wildfire rages in or near their communities, ECM has learned.
Is it just coincidence that earlier today, electricity was switched on to the 500 kilovolt (kv) Sunrise Powerlink for the first time, as UT San Diego reported today?
At 2:53 p.m., SDG&E’s website states that “a combination of factors has caused a problem with a substation.”
According to Cal-Fire, the wildfire, called the Old Fire, began around 3 p.m.
By Susan Brinchman
June 15, 2012 (Folsom) -- The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) is making it easier for media and the public to track power grid conditions and conserve electricity, if necessary. The real-time information is just a click away thanks to new web tools on the ISO homepage: http://www.caiso.com.
- Carlton Oaks land agreement will connect Mission Trails to River Trail (Santee Patch)
- Victim in fatal Alpine crash was to graduate from UCSD (UT San Diego)
- La Mesa Spring Valley School District faces negative bond rating (San Diego Reader)
- Giant SDG&E line sparks rural activism (UT San Diego)
- A closer look at executive pay at Sempra, Qualcomm and other companies (UT San Diego)
- The local newspaper makes national news- NYT criticizes UT San Diego for using newspaper as pulpit for business interests (Voice of San Diego)
- ‘Third strike’ and GMO foods labeling initiatives qualify ballot (Sacramento Bee)
- Sacramento leaders eye pension changes, sales tax (Sacramento Bee)
- Election officials: get used to uncounted ballots (Sacramento Bee)
- California likely to need to cut spending more (Reuters)
- California Highway Patrol Officers union agrees to monthly furlough (Sacramento Bee)
TRANSFORMER FIRE IGNITES VEHICLE, SHUTS DOWN POWER AND CONFINES RESIDENTS TO THEIR HOMES IN EL CAJON
June 12, 2012 (El Cajon) 9:35 a.m. – Power remains out in parts of El Cajon following a transformer fire this morning. Heartland Fire & Rescue crews in El Cajon responded to reports of a transformer fire in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue in El Cajon. As crews arrived, they found not only the transformer fire, but downed power lines and a resulting vehicle fire.
How Kathy and Gene Dolphin walk their talk every day
- Grossmont District deals with layoffs for 2012-13 (UT San Diego)
- Fundraiser for missing hiker search efforts (CBS 8 News)
- DeMaio and Fletcher heat up mayoral debate (UT SanDiego)
- Heated exchange highlights SD Mayoral debate (10 News)
- City attorney threatens to squeeze legal fees out of civic watchdog (CityBeat)
- Controversy, dispute envelop Palomar College construction site at Indian burial ground (OB Rag)
- Group launches effort to recall Sweetwater school trustees (UT San Diego)
- SDG&E avoids shutdown of Powerlink helicopters (UT San Diego)
- Getting to the bottom of city issues (La Mesa Today)
- El Cajon Nixes Chickens (UT San Diego)
- Council refuses to sign PBID petition (La Mesa Today)
- Measure to repeal death penalty in CA qualifies for ballot (Sacramento Bee)
- Social media password bill advances in state Senate (Sacramento Bee)
- Steinberg to push California for initiative changes (Sacramento Bee)
By Miriam Raftery
La Mesa leader in anti-smart meter movement says plan offers relief, but does not go far enough
April 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Ratepayers now have the right to have a smart meter removed from their homes—provided they pay a $75 removal fee and $10 a month fee to read their meter (for low income users, the rate is $10/removal and $5/month).
Consumers who do not yet have smart meters and are on a “delay” list will have to make clear anew that they wish to opt out, or smart meters may be installed.
Petition drive launched to support Kehoe measure set for hearing April 24
By Miriam Raftery
April 18, 2012 (San Diego) – State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) has introduced SB 1537 to halt efforts by utiliy companies to jack up rates on solar energy producers as much as 600%.
Daniel Sullivan, president of Sullivan Solar Power in San Diego, says that utilities in alifornia have "launched an offensive on solar producers led by San Diego Gas and Electric. SDG&E has unfairly targeted commercial solar producers by proposing to increase the demand electricity rates they pay by as much as 600%, but only increasing the demand rates on non-solar producers by a mere 52%," he said. To prevent the utilities from derailing our State’s renewable energy goals, Senator Kehoe is introducing SB 1527, which is set for hearing in Sacramento on April 24.
Outraged? Scroll down to learn how to take action.
By Miriam Raftery
April 8, 2012 (San Diego) Updated April 10, 2012-- At the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) public meeting this week in San Diego, Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey and CPUC Comissioner Timothy Simon heard from hundreds of area residents, including tearful testimony by numerous victims of the 2007 firestorms. Some held twisted burned remnants of their lost homes. Others recalled friends who perished in the flames.
But the most explosive testimony came from former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who declared, “This decision is already made.” He then leveled accusations that the two CPUC represenstatives present, Commissioner Timothy Simon and Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey, are beholden to SDG&E and subverted the legal interests of fire victims and ratepayers.
ECM EDITORIAL: CPUC SHOULD REJECT SDG&E’S SCHEME TO MAKE RATEPAYERS PAY FOR WILDFIRES THAT IT CAUSED
By Miriam Raftery, Editor
April 5, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--When ENRON schemed to manipulate markets and defraud ratepayers, its executives went to jail. BP faces billions of dolalrs in fines for causing the Gulf Oil spill. When automobile manufacturers sold cars with dangerous defects that killed people, it was their shareholders who paid the price. A lost hunter convicted of accidentally starting the Cedar Fire with a flare gun also spent time in jail.
Why, then, should SDG&E and its publicly traded parent company, Sempra Energy, expect local ratepayers to pay for its uninsured liability costs for the wildfires that it caused, while its executives get off scott free?
Supervisor warns of ‘purchased’ testimony from groups receiving SDG&E funding
SAN DIEGO— San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is set to ask state regulators to reject a proposal by SDG&E that would force ratepayers to shoulder the costs of the 2007 wildfires and future wildfires. The California Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings on the matter tomorrow at the Al Bahr Shriners Memorial Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
April 2, 2012 (San Diego) -- Today, in an effort to help enhance the region’s emergency preparedness, San Diego Gas & Electric unveiled its new mobile emergency command centers and new satellite communication systems in San Diego.
"It's right behind my house where we would hike," she said of the posted environmentally sensitive area, where the greatest damage to the environment has been caused by SDG&E itself. "Now there are 10 towers on the east side. It's caused me so much sorrow," Rowley wrote.
By Meg A. Watts
April 1, 2012 (Jacumba) – Officially, the power outage that left 1.4 million customers in San Diego and across the southwest in the dark last September has been blamed on a worker in Yuma, according to SDG&E. But an ECM investigation reveals an electrifying new theory, backed up by photos and an eyewitness account from an off-duty Border Patrol Agent.
Part III in our exclusive report on the proposed Ocotillo Express Wind project
By Miriam Raftery
March 27, 2012 (Ocotillo)-Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley dreads the prospect of the 456-tall wind turbines that may soon surround his home on three sides-some less than half mile away.
Whirling blades, each weighing many tons, would be placed atop an active earthquake fault area capable of a 7.0 quake or more. Fire danger, groundwater impacts, noise, electromagnetic sound waves and ground current are among the potential perils that he fears.
“Our quiet little town of Ocotillo with pristine views of the mountains will be destroyed forever. In return, we have to deal with the possibility of some serious adverse health effects and many other serious problems,” Pelley, an award-winning photojournalist and engineer, told ECM.
By Miriam Raftery
March 24, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Earlier this month, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission ordered San Diego Gas & Electric Company to prepare a plan that would give ratepayers the right to not have wireless smart meters.
But critics, who claim the meters are public health hazards, say the prospect of being charged for removal of smart meters and paying extra fees each month for meter readings is unacceptable.
Fallen trees block roads in Pine Valley and Rancho San Diego
March 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A weather-related problem with a power pole has left 38 utility customers without power in the East Descanso, Green Valley Falls and Cuyamaca areas.
According to SDG&E, the outage began at 2:25 a.m. and power is expected to be restored around 7 p.m. tonight, leaving customers without power for more than 16 hours amid chill winter temperatures and snow.
HOT NEWS: SOLAR NOW COMPETITIVE WITH FOSSIL FUELS AS MAJOR STRIDES MADE TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY, BUT CHALLENGES REMAIN
“San Diego is becoming a Mecca for renewable energy for the United States.” –Mike Armstrong, Soitec, speaking at the San Diego Solar Energy Symposium
By Miriam Raftery
March 18, 2012 (San Diego) – The future is sunny for solar energy. Price parity with conventional energy sources has now been attained in some areas as demand rises and the cost of solar falls. California has emerged as a national leader in the shift to solar--with San Diego at the helm.
March 17, 2012 (La Mesa) – Updated March 23, 2012 -- Last week, we ran a story indicating that SDG&E failed to notify hundreds of La Mesa homes and businesses of a planned outage March 2. Sam Chammas, owner of Riviera Supper Club, wich had a full restaurant and band playing when the lights went out, has now challenged SDG&E to “say sorry with a steak.”
Will SDG&E accept this rare invitation from the steakhouse owner, or consider the matter well done? ECM has asked SDG&E to respond and will publish the response when received. Meanwhile, here is Chammas’ sizzling statement:
CPUC TO HOLD 2 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION HEARINGS ON SDG&E REQUEST TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRE COSTS