The East County (ECO) Substation project is proposed for eastern San Diego County, near the towns of Jacumba and Boulevard. The ECO Substation will interconnect the existing 500-kilovolt (kV) Southwest Powerlink transmission line, enhancing electric reliability in the region and accommodating the delivery of renewable wind, solar and geothermal energy to San Diego Gas & Electric customers.
The project will include a new 58-acre substation in Jacumba that will enable interconnection voltages of 500 kV, 230 kV and 138 kV. In addition, the project will include the reconstruction and modernization of the existing Boulevard Substation, which was built over 50 years ago. The two electric substations will be interconnected via a 13.3-mile, 138-kV transmission line. The ECO Substation Project will help SDG&E improve reliable electric service and meet its commitment to voluntarily obtain 33% of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020.
The ECO Substation Project will provide the infrastructure necessary to connect future wind and solar energy projects in eastern San Diego County to the power grid. This project is especially important in helping to meet California’s aggressive clean energy goals and to decrease the state’s dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, modernization of the current Boulevard Substation will benefit rural East County communities with improved electric reliability.
On Oct. 14, 2011, the CPUC and the BLM issued the final joint EIR/EIS on the project. While EIRs are not used to recommend approval or denial of projects, its findings essentially agreed with the draft EIR/EIS and will be used as a basis for the CPUC’s decision. The draft and the final EIR/EIS confirmed that the ECO Substation will improve and stabilize electric reliability in the region and that the project is needed to help reach the state’s goals for renewable resources. The final EIR/EIS also found that when comparing the ECO Substation Project with the “no project” and other alternatives, the final EIR/EIS found the ECO Substation Project to be the environmentally superior alternative. On May 17, the Administrative Law Judge released the Proposed Decision recommending approval of SDG&E’s Permit to Construct Application for the ECO Substation Project. This decision follows the CPUC’s approval on April 19 of the interim decision, which approved and certified the Final EIR/EIS. A final decision by the CPUC is expected mid-year 2012.
In December 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a Draft Environmental Impact Report – Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) that includes an analysis of SDG&E’s East County (ECO) Substation Project. The extended public comment period included public workshops held in Boulevard and Jacumba. The Final EIR/EIS was released on Oct. 14, 2011, finding the ECO Substation Project was the Environmentally Superior Alternative. A Public Participation Hearing was held in Jacumba following the release of the Final EIR/EIS. On May 17, the Administrative Law Judge released the Proposed Decision recommending approval of SDG&E’s Permit to Construct Application for the ECO Substation Project. This decision follows the CPUC’s approval on April 19 of the interim decision, which approved and certified the Final EIR/EIS. The CPUC approved the Permit to Construct Application on June 21, 2012, and the BLM released the Record of Decision on Aug. 24, 2012, approving the Right of Way to SDG&E for this project on BLM land. Pre-construction of the ECO Substation Project began in the second quarter of 2013.
The ECO Substation Project will dramatically improve electric service and reliability in San Diego County’s rural East County while serving as a catalyst for economic development and green jobs. The project will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, further enable the development of locally generated clean energy and help meet the state requirements of 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2020. Additionally, the ECO Substation Project will help SDG&E and California lead the nation in clean energy development by tapping the renewable energy potential of the San Diego/Imperial Valley/Baja California region, which is one of the best areas for producing clean energy in North America.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has identified eastern San Diego County, Imperial County and the northern Baja region as some of the top locations in North America to generate electricity from wind, the sun and steam heat from the earth. The ECO Substation Project will facilitate the development of wind and solar energy projects by providing an interconnection point on the existing power grid.