HARDENING OF ELECTRICAL POLES IN SANTA YSABEL, RAMONA AREAS

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By Nadin Abbott

May 29, 2014 (San Diego) One of the effects of Climate Change is that San Diego County is expected to have more wild land fires. They already pose a challenge for San Diego Gas and Electric, since wooden poles can burn down, which can delay power restoration in the backcountry.

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has applied and received authorization to harden a section of the line with steel poles. This is along the Tie Line 637. The proposed project will “fire harden” TL 637, an existing 69kV wood power line, by replacing existing wood structures with weathering steel poles. The Proposed Project would be located within currently existing SDG&E rights-of-way (ROW) and substation property.”

This is from the PROPONENT’S ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT For the

Tie-Line 637 Wood-to-Steel Project

Application 13-03-003 Volume II of II: Page  1-1

(The full project documentation can be viewed here: http://www.sdge.com/regulatory-filing/4506/sdge-permit-construct-tie-line-637-wood-steel-project)

The project intends to harden the infrastructure, to help it survive a major fire. In theory this will also allow for faster service restoration after a major fire. The project also includes the installation of a fiber optic line between the Creelman and Sta Ysabel Substations.

Since this project is essentially substituting existing wooden poles, for steel poles, and is to be installed over existing right of ways,  SDG&E was not required to complete for the detailed new project application and oversight that usually comes with a new project. The project, once started, and including planned outages during installation, should take nine months.

Fire hardening poles is an example of adapting infrastructure to climate change.

Some backcountry residents and outdoor enthusiasts have raised objections to the project, voicing concerns over views and potentially, adding other projects onto the infrastructure. The project is being installed along existing rights-of-way.  Although some poles are taller than those they replaced, the new poles do resemble wood, minimizing impacts on views.