New site also will help to achieve Chula Vista’s plan for waterfront
This weekend, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) energized a new substation along Bay Boulevard in Chula Vista that will support the energy needs of the entire South Bay region and downtown San Diego. It also marks a major milestone in the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan as the City of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego work toward their bold vision of developing the bayfront as a “smart” waterfront – incorporating information and communication technologies to improve sustainability, livability and workability.
“This project has been a work-in-progress for more than a decade, in collaboration with local elected and civic leaders,” said David L. Geier, SDG&E’s vice president of electric transmission and system engineering. “Since the shutdown of the South Bay power plant in 2010, the energy for South Bay customers has had to come from more remote sources. This new substation acts as an ‘off-ramp’ from the power grid to improve reliability for this part of the region – meaning fewer interruptions for homes and businesses.”
The substation site was chosen by the city and the Port District. The substation sits on about 10 acres of the 12-acre property, which leaves room to build a future distribution substation if needed to handle additional energy demand due to waterfront development.
The new substation went online on June 11, replacing SDG&E’s 50-year-old South Bay substation, which will be demolished beginning later this year.
“The relocation of the substation enables the demolition of the old site, which is an important step in our bayfront development plan,” said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. “We’re also pleased with the new site’s smaller footprint as we look forward to creating a vibrant waterfront that we hope will become a world-class destination for residents and visitors.”
The state-of-the-art design and construction of the new substation complements the efforts to open up the bayfront by reconfiguring and undergrounding much of the previously existing overhead transmission lines, reducing the visual impact and expanding the view to the water.
SDG&E also carefully considered the potential environmental impacts to the community during construction and worked with California Coastal Commission staff to ensure the project complied with the rigorous resource protection requirements. Because a key concern was the amount of water required during construction, SDG&E used reclaimed water from the City of San Diego’s South Bay Reclamation facility for 85 percent of the project – saving more than 5 million gallons of potable water.
Other environmental benefits of the project include restoration of approximately 10 acres within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge that will create and enhance habitat for endangered wildlife. SDG&E has set aside $500,000 to be used to maintain the wetlands on the wildlife refuge and has established a separate $2 million endowment for the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista to ensure the center’s environmental education programs will continue for the benefit of San Diego County residents and visitors.