June 3, 2019

Press contact: Bill Powers, Protect Our Communities Foundation, 619-917-2941

Taking a giant step backward from the California Public Utilities Commission’s (“Commission”) unanimous denial in June 2018 of the San Diego Gas and Electric Company (“SDG&E”) and the Southern California Gas Company (“SoCalGas”) plan to build a gargantuan $528.5 million natural gas pipeline in San Diego, SDG&E and SoCalGas are now attempting to push forward an even more costly $677 million upgrade to its existing pipeline. The upgrade will increase the pipeline’s capacity and substantially undermine the effect of the Commission’s June 2018 denial of construction of a brand new pipeline.

Three environmental and consumer advocacy groups — the Protect Our Communities Foundation, the Sierra Club, Southern California Generation Coalition, and The Utility Reform Network —  filed a formal Petition for Modification on Friday evening to have the Commission re-open the pipeline proceeding and thoroughly scrutinize this backdoor deal in a public and transparent process.

SDG&E and SoCalGas are working this action through the safety unit of the Commission, known as the Safety and Enforcement Division (“SED”), using SED’s approval of the companies’ plan to upgrade the existing 16-inch line (“Line 1600”) – stretching from Riverside County to San Diego– to push through this very costly and unnecessary expansion of Line 1600’s capacity.  Expansion is unnecessary because the pipeline has been demonstrated to be safe and reliable by the companies’own testing.

This plan circumvents the Commission’s fundamental reason for rejecting the proposed new pipeline in 2018 in the first place – that there was no need or justification “to build a very costly pipeline to substantially increase gas pipeline capacity in an era of declining demand and at a time when the state of California is moving away from fossil fuels.”[1]

“We need to fight this cynical SDG&E and SoCalGas effort to effectively override a unanimous Commission vote that did not go their way, or these utility workarounds will be become standard operating procedure,” says Bill Powers of the Protect Our Communities Foundation.

Now, with the Petition in the Commission’s hands, it is up to the agency to revisit this SED approval of existing pipeline upgrades.


[1] June 2018 Commission denial, Conclusion of Law 3, at p. 123, available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M217/K013/217013446.pdf.