Pole removal

SDG&E and the City of San Diego Partner to Accelerate the Removal of Overhead Power Lines

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 19, 2019 – About 20 miles of overhead power lines have been removed from San Diego neighborhoods over the past year – about four times more than what is accomplished in a typical year – because of a partnership between the City of San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric to accelerate utility undergrounding efforts to improve community aesthetics.  

Removing overhead power, cable and telecommunications lines and putting them underground can help increase property values and reduce vehicle-to-pole contact incidents, which can cause outages and service interruptions.

City leaders, representatives from SDG&E, AT&T and Cox Communications gathered today in Sherman Heights to celebrate the removal of overhead wires in that community. The accelerated effort comes after the City last year announced it would prioritize undergrounding work in coordination with SDG&E, AT&T and Cox Communications.

“We are proud to partner with the City and telecommunications companies to accelerate the undergrounding of our utilities for the benefit of the families and businesses we collectively serve,” SDG&E Chief Operating Officer Caroline Winn said. “We have more work to do and look forward to our continued partnership with the City.”

During the celebration, City leaders and stakeholders stood near 20th Street and L Street and watched as one of the last standing poles in the area was safely brought down by an SDG&E crew. While today’s celebration marked a milestone in Sherman Heights, the City and SDG&E continue to make progress in other neighborhoods. Currently, work is underway to underground about 40 miles of utilities throughout the City.

Including the overhead lines brought down this past year, SDG&E and the City of San Diego plan to underground about 100 miles of utility lines by fiscal year 2022.

Removing overhead utility lines is no small task. It requires extensive coordination and planning with multiple entities, residents and homeowners. In some cases, a utility pole must be left up to provide other services such as cable/internet, even though power lines may have been removed and placed underground, or vice versa. The primary objective is to safely underground utilities with little to no interruption of service for residents and businesses. Other considerations, such as the location of electric substations, water pipes, trees and other street improvements, often need to be addressed before utilities can be placed underground. 

City of San Diego residents pay a surcharge on their SDG&E bill, approved in 2002, to support accelerated undergrounding.  Each month, residential customers within the City of San Diego pay on average $5-$8 on their SDG&E bill to support accelerated undergrounding. Those funds are passed on to the City, and the City then reimburses SDG&E for design and construction costs to underground utility lines in accordance with the City’s prioritization schedule, as approved by the San Diego City Council.

SDG&E is committed to supporting undergrounding efforts throughout its approximately 4,100-square-mile service area where feasible. About 60 percent of SDG&E’s distribution system is underground. Some parts of the region, due to topography or other issues, create design challenges which make undergrounding expensive and infeasible.

SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing around 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas pipelines; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.