March 27, 2014 Edition

Edison to upgrade power grid

Opts for Plan B after Presidential Substation denied
By Stephanie Sumell


POWER UP—Electricity substations in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley will receive upgrades, allowing Southern California Edison to better meet energy needs in the area. POWER UP—Electricity substations in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley will receive upgrades, allowing Southern California Edison to better meet energy needs in the area. Electric company Southern California Edison has the goahead to move forward with a project that will bolster the county’s energy supply.

During its March 13 meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a proposal to upgrade two Ventura County substations, facilities that bring electricity to neighboring cities, and install new distribution lines from those stations.

The commission, made up of five elected officials who regulate privately owned utility companies, granted SCE a permit to upgrade the Potrero and Royal substations with higher-capacity equipment and additional circuits to help meet the energy demands of Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and unincorporated portions of Ventura County.

“The substations will be able to serve a greater demand for electricity than they are currently able to serve,” said Paul Klein, a spokesperson for SCE. “SCE will install new equipment and replace equipment at Potrero Substation (in Thousand Oaks) and Royal Substation (in Simi Valley) to provide additional substation capacity and local distribution circuits.”

The project is a scaled-down version of SCE’s original proposal from 2008.

Opposed by the City of Thousand Oaks and several stakeholder groups, that proposal—named the Presidential Substation Project for its proximity to the neighboring Reagan Library—included a new substation on Olsen Road near the Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley city limits.

It also included about 3½ miles of new power lines to connect the Presidential Substation to locations in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks.

The plan was a point of contention for nearly a decade.

Many said the project would negatively affect the area’s landscape and ecosystem.

Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity protested the original project because of the impact it would have on the Tierra Rejada greenbelt, an area in unincorporated Ventura County between Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.

The agricultural and open space area—and connector for wildlife traveling through the region—is home to endangered species such as the California gnatcatcher, Riverside fairy shrimp and yellowfl owering Lyon’s pentachaeta.

Representatives of the Center for Biological Diversity praised the commission for approving a less environmentally invasive project.

“California’s regulators took a stand for the environment and for ratepayers, finding a better alternative for this bloated power-line proposal,” said Jonathan Evans, the nonprofit’s attorney. “This decision is a great road map for energy solutions that protect wildlife and save money.”

Klein said the less-elaborate project, which will have minimal impact on the area’s appearance, will still be beneficial to cities in Ventura County.

“The purpose of the (original proposal) was to add capacity through the construction of a new substation to meet the long-term demand for electricity in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and adjacent areas of unincorporated Ventura County,” Klein said.

“Although (the alternative proposal) does not provide the same increase in electrical capacity as the originally proposed project, based on recent load forecasts, it will meet the project’s goal to increase electrical capacity, maintain system reliability and serve the area’s projected demand for electricity.”

It’s also less expensive, Klein said. “SCE will not know the estimated cost for the approved project until final design and engineering have been completed. However, the approved project involves less overall infrastructure work and so would likely cost less than the Presidential Substation Project.”

Klein said SCE will likely hire contractors to complete the project.

2014-03-27 / Community

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