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City Manager's Updates

Periodic updates from El Cerrito City Manager Karen Pinkos.

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Nov 15

PGE Substation Rebuild

Posted on November 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM by Suzanne Iarla

The City was notified by PG&E that they will be embarking on a project to rebuild
the substation located between Schmidt Lane and Portola Drive, adjacent to Casa
Cerrito at 6927 Portola Drive. Since 1977, the City has been permitted to use a
strip of land owned by PG&E just to the right of the driveway of Casa Cerrito. The
permit includes a 30-day termination clause, and PG&E has informed the City that
they will retake possession of this land on November 30, 2013 in order to facilitate
their sub-station modernization and expansion plan.

City staff met with PG&E to discuss the construction plans. The project is a major
rebuild of the substation to accommodate more capacity and upgrade the
equipment (including technological and seismic upgrades). This plan has several
phases and will take place over the next four years. The trees on the strip of land
adjacent to Casa Cerrito will be removed and in a few months, PG&E plans to
build an eight to ten foot "decorative" brick wall from Portola Drive to Schmidt
Lane along their property line. The equipment, including transformers, will be
upgraded and realigned on the property. PG&E staff will be pulling ministerial
building and grading permits for the wall and the construction of a small modular
building to house part of the equipment. PG&E staff informed City staff that the
project is exempt from CEQA and their approvals for the project are governed by
the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). PG&E will be working directly
with the Development Services staff and Public Works staff with respect to the
permitting process and removal of the trees.

PG&E staff also informed City staff that they intend to do a comprehensive public
outreach program to the adjacent neighborhood (1200 foot radius) in order to
keep them informed of the construction schedule, and in fact have already begun
communicating with the residents immediately adjacent to their property regarding
the removal of trees and the construction of the wall. They anticipate holding an
open house meeting as well for the public to attend. City staff was very clear with
PG&E staff that they should anticipate informed, active public involvement and
feedback, and asked that all public information be shared with City staff so that
the City can facilitate and complement PG&E's outreach efforts. PG&E staff
stated that they are willing to do this. The City will create a page on the City's
website to house information on the project as well as contact information for the
appropriate PG&E staff for residents should they require further information.
As Council knows, last week PG&E informed the City of issues with welding of
pipelines in the area, including El Cerrito, that resulted in fines from the CPUC.

Some Councilmembers and staff received questions from the public on this
matter. In consideration of this development, in addition to the substation re-build,
Mayor Lyman asked staff to contact PG&E staff to ask them to appear before the
City Council. I have confirmed that PG&E staff will give a presentation at the City
Council meeting on December 3, 2013. Roxanne Cruz, the government affairs
representative, has indicated she may also contact members of the Council ·
personally. She has informed me that the presentation will include a discussion of
both the weld issues and the substation construction project, and will have
additional staff available to answer questions.

City staff will be continuously monitoring the project both in the field and through
public feedback.

Materials are available for review at City Hall, including a map of the property.