SDG&E to upgrade poles, Rancho Santa Fe substation

A SDG&E infrastructure upgrade project is expected to begin this summer in Rancho Santa Fe, making improvements to the substation on Via de Santa Fe and bringing new poles, wires, connections and transformers over the next year and a half.

Adaline Woodward, SDG&E’s public affairs manager, said the project is part of SDG&E’s goal of upgrading the system so it meets the increasing demands for electricity and to improve reliability as well as fire safety.

During an update at the Rancho Santa Fe Association board’s June 1 meeting, Woodward said the project’s first phase includes a new masonry control shelter and phase two includes the replacement of aging equipment. Both phases include the replacement of a total of 120 wooden poles with fire-resistant steel poles, bringing the transmission lines from 4 kV to 12 kV.

The new poles will be reddish in color and will be about the same height, increasing on average 5 feet. Exact locations of the poles will be available on the Rancho Santa Fe Association website.

Phase one is expected to begin in July 2017 and completed in December 2017. Phase two is expected to begin in January 2018 and take 11 months, finishing in November 2018.

The RSF Association board questioned why the new poles couldn’t be undergrounded.

Woodward said there is are currently no plans to underground. The biggest concern is the cost, as it is a ratepayer-funded project and it costs three-to-four times as much to underground poles than it does to replace them.

Lines can be placed underground at the landowner’s expense and another option would be through San Diego County’s “20A” funds — the county and Association would have to work together to determine if funding would be available to underground this project.

The SDG&E team did not know the cost of the replacement poles but RSF Association Director Kim Eggleston offered that when he worked with the utility to try to underground two poles on his property, the cost came to around $130,000 for the two poles.

RSF Association Director Rick Sapp said if the project moves forward to replace the poles, it seems they would not be eligible for county undergrounding funds because the overhead infrastructure will all be new. RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said that the poles are a “serious concern” and that he would like to explore what Rancho Santa Fe could do to be considered for undergrounding funds

When construction begins next month, work hours are typically between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and residents will be notified when more firm construction dates are known. Woodward said during construction SDG&E will make efforts to minimize disruptions such as construction traffic, dust and noise along Via de la Valle and Via de Santa Fe.

For more information on the project, residents can contact Adaline Woodward at 1-844-210-5821 or email