A Tentative No: SDG&E Gas Pipeline Gets Negative Evaluation
An administrative law judge has rejected a utility proposal to build a huge gas pipeline in San Diego County.
San Diego Gas and Electric had asked to build a 36-inch gas line to replace a 16-inch pipeline that runs along the Interstate 15 corridor. The pipe would run from Miramar to Rainbow along a 47-mile long path. Ratepayers would shoulder the $639 million price tag for the underground pipe.
Administrative law judge Collette Kersten’s ruling is extensive — 147 pages — and recommends denial of the project.
Opponents of the project welcomed the ruling, calling it thorough and complete.
“This is not just a victory for ratepayers, but for all life in our region that is already being catastrophically impacted by climate change driven events. This was a decision for the health of our residents, and for protection of wildlife and open space,” said Stephanie Corkran, pipeline coordinator of San Diego 350.
Corkran said the administrative law judge could not find a need for the project, despite arguments by the utility that the upgrade was essential.
“It was hard to prove that this pipeline was needed with decreasing natural gas demand. And the fact that California has clean energy goals. She (Kersten) mentioned we’re supposed to be moving away from fossil fuels,” Corkran said.
SDG&E officials said they are disappointed with the draft ruling because it puts San Diego at risk and rejects the need for investment in the company’s infrastructure.
“The Pipeline Safety & Reliability Project is a critical infrastructure project that is needed to enhance safety of the natural gas system so that we can continue to meet the energy needs of approximately 880,000 customers including hospitals, the military, schools, universities, biotechnology, hotels and restaurants,” said Jennifer Ramp of SDG&E.
The administrative law judge’s decision is not the final word on the project. That will come from the California Public Utilities Commission sometime this summer.