Matt Potter 8:03 a.m., June 19
Business owners in Alpine sue SDG&E over impacts from Sunrise Powerlink
Construction impacts caused many businesses to lose major cash and even forced some to close.
SDG&E's newly built Sunrise Powerlink is the tie that binds the power grids in Imperial Valley and San Diego County.
For businesses located on Alpine Boulevard in the unincorporated community of Alpine, the line also cut off access to local businesses.
Seven businesses including Oscar and Company Salon, Pizza Hut, Bella's Closet, Blue Star Market, Alpine Orthodontics, Jennifer's Feed and Supply, and Natural Instincts Healthy Pet Center, all located on Alpine Boulevard, are suing the power company for the financial hardships their businesses suffered due to construction of the Sunrise Powerlink.
In the lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court on March 8, business owners say energy company executives failed to live up to promises that construction would not bring gridlock to the 6.2-mile long business district.
Lawyer for the plaintiffs, Rebecca Blain, says some businesses were forced to close their doors while others lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenues.
"One of our biggest complaints is the manner in which SDG&E handled construction," wrote Blain in a March 20 email.
"When Powerlink construction was in the works for Alpine, businesses owners were told that SDG&E would do everything necessary to mitigate the impact of construction. They pitched a construction plan that had it proceeding methodically down Alpine Boulevard and limiting construction to discrete areas of the street. This plan was jettisoned almost as soon as construction started. Construction occurred all over the boulevard at once, often limiting the street to a single lane of traffic, creating a gauntlet of construction obstacles that many Alpine patrons couldn't take."
As for the exact numbers: "It depends on the type of business, but most of the revenue losses were extensive. Many businesses lost hundreds of thousands of dollars during the course of construction. Many other businesses were unable to sustain the impact of construction and closed their doors entirely."
Blain says that SDG&E was aware of the impacts and at one point created a claims unit to look into the impact to businesses. The settlements offers "were typically low, generally something in the range of $3,000 for a binding release of all claims."
Representatives from San Diego Gas and Electric declined to comment for this story.