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SDG&E ready to undertake two undergrounding projects in La Jolla

An SDG&E project to place power cables underground will go up Mount Soledad and connect to a substation via Nautilus Street.
A San Diego Gas & Electric project to place power cables underground will go up Mount Soledad along Via Capri and connect to a substation in La Jolla’s Village via Nautilus Street.
(Courtesy of SDG&E)

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is planning a new project in La Jolla to place power cables underground and says it will restart another La Jolla undergrounding project previously stalled due to the city of San Diego’s summer construction moratorium and its then-unnegotiated utility franchise agreement.

The new plan, called the TL673 La Jolla Underground Cable System Replacement Project, will replace about three miles of power lines between the Rose Canyon substation near Gilman Court and the top of Mount Soledad by way of Via Capri and connect to an existing package of lines down Nautilus Street to a substation at Eads Avenue and Pearl Street.

The work will begin in the third quarter of this year; SDG&E aims to have it complete by the end of 2022.

The goal of the project is to improve the current system of cables, now approaching 60 years old. “By upgrading critical underground infrastructure, this new cable system will help improve the safety and reliability of electric service for La Jolla and surrounding communities,” said SDG&E communications manager Sara Prince.

The work will entail installing PVC conduits and burying them in concrete encasements, according to SDG&E, which says it not only will improve reliability but also prevent potential contractor digs into power cables.

SDG&E will dig trenches in the road to install the conduits and will restore the road surface according to city standards, and work will not conflict with the summer construction moratorium.

City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said he has received assurances that “there will be no construction this summer,” when the city prohibits construction in coastal areas from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“We have carefully planned this project and are committed to completing the work with as little impact as possible to residents and businesses in the area,” Prince said.

LaCava said he has asked SDG&E to hold presentations at community group meetings. “With projects of this scope, public input is essential in ensuring residents along the route are fully versed on construction methods, schedules, and street closures and detours,” he said.

La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson said a representative of SDG&E has been scheduled to present the plan at LJSA’s July 14 meeting, since portions of the project along Via Capri fall in The Shores neighborhood.

In The Shores, an undergrounding project between La Jolla Shores Drive and the ocean has been stalled since Memorial Day 2020, first for the summer beach construction moratorium and also due to the city’s 50-year-old franchise agreement with SDG&E expiring this year.

The City Council approved a new franchise agreement May 25 and approved a second reading as required June 8.

The city and the utility company finalized a deal for up to 20 years earlier this month.

SDG&E senior communications manager Helen Gao said the company “has been working in close collaboration with the city and will resume the project at the city’s direction and in accordance with the new franchise agreement.”

She said construction on the project will resume after Labor Day, when the summer construction moratorium ends, pending details of the franchise agreement.

“We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding,” Gao said.

SDG&E has been invited to LJSA’s Aug. 11 meeting to present that project, Emerson said. “We need to work together so there [is] as little disruption for residents as possible,” she said.

A different undergrounding project east of La Jolla Shores Drive is nearly complete, according to Gao. ◆