By JOE ANDERSON and STEPHANIE FRISCH / For the Orange County Register
There is a popular misconception that common resources like water and power will be plentiful and abundant in the future because it’s always been that way in the past. The truth is that unless we maintain and upgrade our infrastructure, those essential resources will become less and less reliable.
Today in South Orange County, we rely on an electrical grid that is decades old and was designed for a population that was a fraction of what we have today. The transmission power goes through the substation at Talega in San Clemente and from there goes on to serve all of South Orange County.
If, for whatever reason, the Talega substation was to go down, we would lose all power to all 330,000 residents in South Orange County until San Diego Gas & Electric could get it back up and running again.
In recognition of the need for a redundant electric system, SDG&E has proposed to improve and upgrade its substation in San Juan Capistrano. This substation, which was originally built in 1918, has had only minor modifications since the 1950’s and needs to be upgraded to meet community needs.
By upgrading the substation in San Juan Capistrano, it will be able to keep the lights on if anything happens to the substation at Talega. And Talega will do the same if the Capistrano substation goes down. This is known as a redundant system and when it comes to an essential element like power, it is long overdue.
Unfortunately, it was reported by the Register that a handful of local residents want the Capistrano substation dismantled entirely.
Keep in mind that when this substation was built in 1918, it was surrounded by open fields with no residents for miles. Every resident who bought or rented a house in this neighborhood was well aware that this substation existed long before any of their homes were built.
Whether it is road improvements, new water reliability projects or electrical upgrades, all new infrastructure projects will have opponents determined to turn back the clock to a time when infrastructure like this wasn’t available. Ironically, our forefathers dreamed of infrastructure like power and roads as tools that would put their communities on the map and help with the economic growth of their businesses.
Today’s community leaders understand the importance of upgrading infrastructure, which is why dozens of local residents, business leaders and environmentalists have joined forces to form the Citizens for Safe and Reliable Power. We all need reliable electric service. Just remember, even the opponents who are trying to stop this electric upgrade project need to plug their computers in somewhere.
Joe Anderson and Stephanie Frisch serve as the co-chairs for the Citizens for Safe and Reliable Power, a coalition of residents, businesses and environmentalists that support SDG&E’s proposed South Orange County Reliability Enhancement project.
“It just needs to be moved. It’s ludicrous,” Dominic Fergus-Bentall, who has lived on Via San Vicente for six years, told the Register. Members of the community have started a petition calling on the California Public Utilities Commission to move the new substation out of town and save a building at the site. SDG&E owned the 6.4 acres long before homes occupied the surrounding land.