Embarcadero/Potrero Transmission Project


On December 11, 2012 PG&E filed an Application with the CPUC requesting to construct the 230 kiloVolt Embarcadero-Potrero transmission line at the cost of $171 million plus a contingency budget. The proposed project consists of installing a new 3.5 mile transmission line between PG&E’s Potrero switchyard and its Embarcadero Substation. The project would be capable of delivering up to 400 MW of electricity to the substation. PG&E asserts that the project will greatly reduce the risk of a major outage in downtown San Francisco due to a major earthquake or other major events.  

On August 29, 2013, the CPUC issued a Scoping Memo that outlined the process for determination of need, environmental impact review, and costs. PG&E served its Testimony on September 9, 2013. A final Mitigated Negative Declaration (a report that assesses the impact of the project on the environment) was issued on October 30, 2013. 

The CPUC issued a Proposed Decision on December 13, 2013, which would grant PG&E a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the construction of the Embarcadero-Potrero 230 kilovolt transmission project. The Proposed Decision also requires that if the final detailed engineering design construction estimate is one percent or more lower than the $196.8 million budget, which includes contingency, PG&E should file an advice letter with the CPUC within 30 days to demonstrate why the CPUC should not adopt a lower amount as the maximum reasonable cost. 


ORA Position 

ORA investigated PG&E’s request to determine whether the Embarcadero-Potrero project is needed, has reasonable cost estimates, and provides more benefits to customers than it would cost. ORA conducted discovery, made field inspections, and held meetings with PG&E to evaluate the need, cost, and alternatives to the proposed project. ORA found sufficient evidence to demonstrate need actually exists due to the high probability of very costly outages caused by major earthquakes or other major events. The proposed project appears to be the best alternative among all the alternatives considered. However, ORA advocates for cost-containment strategies, and against any ratepayer responsibility to cover any cost overruns above the contingency estimates.

See ORA’s November 8, 2013 Opening Brief.


Proceeding Status

A CPUC Final Decision is expected in early 2014. 

See the Proceeding docket.