Growth in northeast Fresno and Clovis is pushing the operator of the state’s electrical grid and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to explore options for a new substation to boost power service and reliability in the area.
PG&E is studying a sprawling area encompassing about 150 square miles of Fresno County north and east of Clovis for possible locations. The utility has several substations nearer to the urbanized area, but problems at some of those substations make portions of the area vulnerable to power outages, said Jameson Saberon, a senior land planner with PG&E.
The California Independent System Operator, which manages the statewide electrical grid, “identified a need for a new substation in northeast Fresno in 2012 or 2013,” Saberon said.
But before PG&E can build, it needs to undertake an elaborate evaluation of possible sites to assess impacts on residents, businesses and the environment – all before filing its application to the California Public Utilities Commission.
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PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said it’s too early in the process to estimate the cost of the substation because of variables, including how much work will go into preparing whichever site ultimately is chosen by the CPUC.
In addition to the substation, PG&E plans to upgrade nearly 50 miles of transmission lines. Depending on the site chosen for the substation, five major transmission lines may need to be rerouted to connect to it.
The area being studied includes flat terrain on the central San Joaquin Valley floor as well as stretches of Sierra foothills. “It’s a challenging area to work with,” Saberon said, “but the need is still there.”
PG&E is holding open house sessions Tuesday and Wednesday at Clovis North High School, where residents can ask questions and learn more about the project and its possible effects on the community.
The company already has been in discussions with other agencies and Fresno County to examine potential substation sites. As the process continues, the utility will be taking comments from residents and property owners before it makes its formal application to regulators in 2017.
The utility estimates the CPUC’s process of environmental evaluation and approval of the project could take about two years.
If regulators approve the project in 2019, PG&E said it expects the substation could be operational by late 2022.
PG&E is holding a pair of open houses this week to provide information about its plans to develop a new electrical substation to serve northeast Fresno and Clovis.
- What: PG&E Northern Fresno Reliability Project meetings
- When: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
- Where: Clovis North High School multipurpose room, 2770 E. International Ave., Fresno
- Project details: www.pge.com/northernfresnorealiability