SDG&E completed the first phase of its wooden pole retrofit project last year and will begin the next phase in the first quarter of 2019 in Rancho Santa Fe. The last phase of the project consisted of 120 poles, the next phase is comprised of 110 poles, including replacing 50 wooden poles with fire-resistant steel.
Representatives from SDG&E will be at the Feb. 7 Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting to discuss the next phase of work, which includes approximately seven new poles installed via helicopter in a project area bounded by Via de la Valle, La Valle Plateada, El Mirador, El Vuelo, La Colinas and El Zorro Vista.
The purpose for the project is to enhance the reliability of the electric system, replace aging equipment and convert the system from a 4kV to 12kV to help serve the increasing demand in the region. According to Allison Torres, communications manager at SDG&E, while the first phase of the project has been completed, there are a few outstanding poles that they need other utilities to remove their equipment from before they can completely remove the poles. They hope to have the issue resolved as soon as they can, Torres said.
After the next phase of 110 poles in completed, SDG&E will begin work on upgrading the substation on Via de Santa Fe.
This week the current staging yard at Calzada Del Bosque is being de-mobilized and the new yard will be located on the south side of El Camino Real and San Dieguito Road, Torres said.
Last year Rancho Santa Fe residents resisted against the installation of new poles, with over 200 people signing a petition opposing the “blight” of overhead lines and requesting that the poles be undergrounded.
According to SDG&E, it would cost an estimated $300 million to underground all 1,499 utility poles in the Covenant.
The Rancho Santa Fe Community Services District is the mechanism that residents can use to place lines underground at their own expense. Another undergrounding option is available through San Diego County’s “20A” funds.
Utilities like SDG&E allocate funds under Rule 20 to cities or counties to convert overhead facilities to underground facilities. San Diego County is the governing body regarding Rule 20 project selection and funding. When the county identifies a project and allocates the funding for that project, they communicate those priorities to SDG&E, who completes the work.
According to Rancho Santa Fe Association Assistant Manager Arnold Keene, the Association is putting together a list of streets that they would like to county to consider for undergrounding using those limited 20A funds. Keene said that it can be a long process of up to five years for funds to be granted and certain criteria regarding public benefit must be met, but the Association would at least like to get their top five roads into the queue for consideration.
More information on the Rancho Santa Fe pole replacement project can be found at sdge.com/major-projects/rancho-santa-fe-replacement-activities.