Barnaby Monk 12:30 p.m., Aug. 20
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Alpine, Supervisor Jacob Warn SDG&E & Forest Service of Wildfires
A San Diego Union-Tribune reader submitted an editorial letter "SDG&E jumps gun on Sunrise link" over the weekend, indicating that "On June 16, Sempra (SDG&E) or one of its contractors were using helicopters to land on the Cleveland National Forest sites to continue work on the huge electrical towers and pads where there is a 'stop work order' on federal lands."
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is opposed to the Sunrise Powerlink project, saying "It’s clear and eminent danger if this line goes through; there is no way to mitigate fire risk." Jacob's comments came as she organized an Alpine community meeting when the National Forest Service chose not to hold one. Any public comment will be recorded and submitted to the Forest Service tomorrow.
According to Debra Reed, a Sempra Energy vice president and former SDG&E CEO, “The time to prepare for fires is before you smell smoke in the air. We’ve been privileged to partner with hundreds of nonprofit groups over the years to meet local needs, especially when it comes to community health and safety, education and the environment.” According to the power utility, "In addition to managing existing trees, SDG&E plants and donates new trees every year, contributing more than 1,000 trees to communities in 2008 alone."
In 2009, the manager of SDG&E's vegetation management program testified before California's Public Utilities Commission that SDG&E's failure to manage specifically identified trees were a cause of at least one 2007 county wildfire, mainly because he didn't get a written contractor's memo requesting that the previously-identified tree be trimmed. Reed was SDG&E CEO during the wildfires and at the time SDG&E employee Don Akau gave his CPUC consumer protection testimony.
According to the California Public Utilities Code, every case of utility employee negligence in the performance of duties shall be an act of negligence by the public utility under section 2109. SDG&E recently reached a settlement with CPUC to bill all customers in SDG&E's service area for $25 million in wildfire damages to utility equipment, where Sempra Energy shareholders got a bill for their part of less than $7 million, not a bad deal by comparison.
SDG&E currently estimates that power lines will be underground in the County of San Diego by 2063. However, there are no SDG&E plans to put the either the Sunrise Powerlink project underground through the Cleveland National Forest nor surrounding SDG&E's proposed substation upgrade in Chula Vista.