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Introduction

Welcome to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the proposed San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) South Orange County Reliability Enhancement project (SOCRE project, or proposed project). A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) application for this project was submitted to the CPUC on May 18, 2012 (Application A.12-05-020). The CPUC, through its Environmental Review Team, is conducting an environmental review of the SOCRE project. This site provides access to public documents and information relevant to the CEQA review process.

Background and Project Purpose

SDG&E has filed an application for CPCN with the CPUC for the SOCRE project to rebuild and upgrade a portion of its transmission infrastructure in South Orange County.

The purpose of the proposed SOCRE project is to increase the reliability and operational flexibility of SDG&E’s South Orange County 138-kilovolt (kV) system to reduce the risk of electrical outages. The project would also upgrade aging electrical infrastructure in the South Orange County area, including SDG&E’s Capistrano Substation in the City of San Juan Capistrano.

The existing 230-kV transmission network at SDG&E’s Talega Substation (located on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton) provides power for the South Orange County service area. Power supplied by the Talega Substation is transmitted to seven distribution substations —Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, Margarita, Pico, San Mateo, Rancho Mission Viejo, and Trabuco—over a 138-kV transmission network.

The SOCRE project would improve reliability by providing a second 230-kV power source to SDG&E’s South Orange County service area and modernizing aging infrastructure, including rebuilding the Capistrano Substation, which was constructed in the 1960s, and upgrading components of the Talega Substation. Once upgraded, “Capistrano Substation” would be renamed “San Juan Capistrano Substation.” The upgraded substation would accommodate two new 230-kV lines and two additional 138-kV lines that would be rerouted to the upgraded substation. An existing 138-kV line would be routed to Talega Substation.

A link to SDG&E’s website for the SOCRE project may be accessed here. This website includes additional information about the project including a ten-minute video overview of the project.

Project Description

The primary components of the proposed project would include:
  1. Rebuilding and upgrading the 138/12-kV 60-megavolt ampere (MVA) air-insulated Capistrano Substation as a 230/138/12-kV 700-MVA gas-insulated (GIS) substation that would be named San Juan Capistrano Substation;
  2. Replacing a single-circuit 138-kV transmission line between the applicant’s Talega and Capistrano substations with a new double-circuit 230-kV transmission line (approximately 7.8-miles long);
  3. Relocating several transmission line segments (approximately 1.8 miles, total) adjacent to Talega and Capistrano substations to accommodate the proposed Capistrano Substation expansion and new 230-kV line; and
  4. Relocating several 12-kV distribution lines segments (approximately 6 miles) into underground conduit and overhead on existing and new structures located between the Capistrano Substation and Prima Deshecha Landfill.
Construction of the proposed project would take approximately 64 months.

Project Location

The components of the SOCRE project would be primarily located in existing SDG&E ROW within the cities of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente as well as unincorporated Orange County and United States Marine Corps (USMC) land in San Diego County. The existing 138-kV transmission line, which would be replaced by the proposed double-circuit 230-kV transmission line, crosses Interstate 5 (I-5) east of the Capistrano Substation, and then continues southeast to the Rancho San Juan residential development and Prima Deshecha Landfill. From there, the transmission line continues southeast through the City of San Clemente and unincorporated Orange to the Talega Substation, which is located partially within the boundaries of the USMC Base Camp Pendleton.

In addition, a 12-kV distribution line would be installed in existing and new underground conduit and overhead on new and replaced structures, from Capistrano Substation in the City of San Juan Capistrano to the Rancho San Juan residential development and Prima Deshecha Landfill. Click here and here to see the location of the project components.

CPUC Process

The CPUC conducts two parallel processes when considering development proposed by a regulated utility: an application process, in which the CPUC reviews the utility’s proposal (such as SDG&E’s CPCN application for the SOCRE project) and considers whether the project is needed and is in the public interest; and an environmental review process pursuant to CEQA. The CPCN application process focuses on utility ratepayer and public benefit issues, and is undertaken by the CPUC’s Administrative Law Judges Division.

The CEQA process for utility applications is led by the CPUC’s Energy Division, which will direct the Environmental Review Team and the preparation of the SOCRE project Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The EIR would describe the nature and extent of the environmental impacts of the SOCRE project and project alternatives, and would discuss mitigation measures for adverse impacts. Through the EIR process, the CPUC will determine whether the SOCRE project would result in significant impacts on the environment, and whether those impacts could be avoided or reduced to less than significant levels. The EIR will be used by the CPUC in conjunction with other information prepared for the CPUC’s formal record to act on SDG&E’s application. If, through the EIR process, the CPUC determines the project would result in significant environmental impacts that could not be mitigated to less than significant levels but still approves the project, the Commission’s decision on the application will include a Statement of Overriding Considerations that presents the economic, legal, social, and technological benefits, or other benefits, that outweigh the project’s impacts.

Application and Proponent’s Environmental Assessment (PEA)

The CPUC has reviewed SDG&E’s application and Proponent’s Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SOCRE project and, after the submittal of additional information by SDG&E, determined that the application and PEA are complete. The application and PEA, along with the CPUC’s requests for additional information and SDG&E’s responses to these requests are presented here to allow interested parties an opportunity for review.

SDG&E SOCRE Project Application A.12-05-020 (May 18, 2012)
SDG&E SOCRE Project Proponent’s Environmental Assessment (May, 2012) 82 MB
CPUC Deficiency Letter (June 15, 2012)
SDG&E Responses to CPUC Deficiency Letter (July 27, August 14, and August 16, 2012) 20 MB
CPUC Second Deficiency Letter (September 13, 2012)
SDG&E Response to Second Deficiency Letter (October 9, 2012)
CPUC Completeness Letter (January 7, 2013)

Public Scoping and Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report

The CPUC circulated a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an EIR for the proposed project on January 9, 2013, which opened a public review and comment period on the scope of the CEQA document. All interested parties, including the public, responsible agencies, and trustee agencies, were invited to present comments about the SOCRE project and the scope of the EIR.

The public review and comment period for the NOP ended on February 22, 2013.

The CPUC’s Energy Division hosted two public scoping meetings for the SOCRE project in order to provide interested parties an opportunity to learn more about the project, ask questions, and submit comments. The public scoping meeting on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 was held at San Juan Capistrano Community Hall and the public scoping meeting on Thursday, January 24, 2013 was held at Bella Collina Towne and Golf Club.

A summary of the scoping process and comments received during the scoping period is included in the Scoping Summary Report, which is available here and in Appendix A of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (see below).

La versión en español de la Notificación de Preparación del Informe de Impacto Ambiental (EIR) está disponible aquí.

EIR Alternatives Screening Report

As required by CEQA (CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6(e)), the CPUC has reviewed and selected feasible project alternatives that would avoid or substantially lessen significant impacts of the project, while accomplishing most of the basic project objectives. Project alternatives were identified by the applicant in the PEA, formulated by the CPUC, or proposed during public scoping for the EIR. The CPUC has prepared an alternatives screening report which identifies and reviews (“screens”) 12 potential alternatives to the proposed project, and selects 11 of these alternatives (including the No Project alternative, which is required by CEQA) for further analysis in the EIR. The CPUC’s alternatives screening report is available here and in Appendix B of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (see below).

Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Draft EIR/ Public Review Period/ Public Meeting

As the CEQA Lead Agency, the CPUC prepared a Draft EIR for the proposed project in accordance with CEQA. The Notice of Availability (NOA) and the Draft EIR may be viewed here. A Notice of Completion (NOC) for the Draft EIR (SCH No. 2013011011) was sent to the California State Clearinghouse. The NOC may be viewed here.

La versión en español de la Notificación de Disponibilidad del Informe de Impacto Ambiental (EIR) está disponible aquí.

Hardcopies of the Draft EIR were made available at the following repositories:

The CPUC received comments on the Draft EIR during the 45-day period starting February 23, 2015, and ending April 10, 2015.Comments were submitted using the following methods:

Email: SOCRE.CEQA@ene.comMail: California Public Utilities Commission
Fax: 415-398-5326RE: SOCRE Project
c/o Ecology and Environment, Inc.
505 Sansome Street, Suite #300
San Francisco, CA 94111

The CPUC held two public meetings on March 25, 2015 to explain the proposed project, discuss the proposed project’s significant impacts, and receive comments on the Draft EIR from the public. Information regarding the public meetings is provided below:

March 25, 2015 1:00 to 3:00pm March 25, 2015 6:00 to 8:00pm
San Clemente Community Center – Ole Hanson Fireside Room San Juan Capistrano Community Hall
100 N. Calle Seville 25925 Camino Del Avion
San Clemente, CA 92672 San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 361-8264 (949) 493-5911
A copy of the PowerPoint presentation from the public meetings is available here.

Comments Received During the Draft EIR Public Comment Period

The following comments were received during the public comment period for the Draft EIR:
Comment Directory
Comment Numbers 1-50, 51-100, 101-150, 151-200, 201-250, 251-300, 301-350, 351-404


Recirculated Draft EIR/ Public Review Period

As the CEQA Lead Agency, the CPUC prepared a Recirculated Draft EIR for the proposed project in accordance with CEQA. The NOA and the Recirculated Draft EIR may be viewed here. A NOC for the Draft EIR (SCH No. 2013011011) was sent to the California State Clearinghouse. The NOC may be viewed here.

The Recirculated Draft EIR contains a new alternative, called the Trabuco Alternative, which was suggested by the public during review of the Draft EIR. The Recirculated Draft EIR also identifies additional significant impacts on biological resources, cultural resources, and land use and planning from construction and operation of the proposed project that were not previously disclosed in the Draft EIR. Consistent with the provisions of Section 15088.5 of the CEQA Guidelines, portions of the Draft EIR have been revised with new information, and revised chapters and sections are being recirculated for public comment.

Hardcopies of the Recirculated Draft EIR were made available at the following repositories:

The CPUC received comments on the Recirculated Draft EIR during the 45-day period starting August 10, 2015, and ending September 24, 2015. The CPUC requested that reviewers focus their comments specifically on the new content included in the Recirculated Draft EIR, consistent with the provisions of Section 15088.5 of the CEQA Guidelines. Written comments on the Recirculated Draft EIR were submitted using the following methods:

Email: SOCRE.CEQA@ene.comMail: California Public Utilities Commission
Fax: 415-398-5326RE: SOCRE Project
c/o Ecology and Environment, Inc.
505 Sansome Street, Suite #300
San Francisco, CA 94111

No public meetings were held by the CPUC during this public review period.

Comments Received During the Recirculated Draft EIR Public Comment Period

The following comments were received during the public comment period for the Recirculated Draft EIR:

Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4

SDG&E’s Comment:

Cover Letter & Introduction, Comment: Exhibit 1-10



Final EIR

The Final EIR was published April 25, 2016 and may be viewed here.

Commission Decision

The results of the Commission decision on the project will be presented here, when available.

Construction Progress and Mitigation Monitoring

Reports issued by the CPUC, reports on construction progress, and reports issued as part of the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program will be presented here, when available.

For Additional Information

To request additional information or to be added to the mailing list, please contact us by email, fax, or phone, as follows:

Project email: SOCRE.CEQA@ene.com
Project fax: 415-398-5326
Project voicemail: (855) 520-6799 (toll free)

The CPUC’s Project Manager is:

Andrew Barnsdale, CPUC Project Manager
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Email: andrew.barnsdale@cpuc.ca.gov
Tel.: (415) 703-3221
Fax:   (415) 703-1758