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PUC Preliminarily Rejects Sempra’s Bid to Build Gas Pipeline

The California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday preliminarily rejected a bid from San Diego-based Sempra Energy to build a $621 million natural gas pipeline from San Bernardino to Riverside, with a judge finding cheaper and safer options available to improve the company’s gas flow.

The decision is not binding until approved by the full Commission in at least a month.

Administrative Law Judge Karl Bemesderfer denied Sempra subsidiaries Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.’s application to build a 65-mile north-south pipeline between Adelanto and Moreno Valley. Sempra claimed it needed the pipeline because the southern portions of its natural gas system had limited access to supplies from the northern portion and that it needed to rely on out-of-state suppliers to meet minimum flow requirements.

But the judge found that there were more cost-effective alternatives to support the southern gas system, including three other pipeline proposals from other companies.

In a press release, CPUC added that SoCal Gas’ massive methane leak in Aliso Canyon impacted how much gas the proposed pipeline could provide.

“Because of the leak at Aliso Canyon, there is little stored gas available on the northern system to support deliveries on the southern system, a situation that significantly reduces the value of a new north-to-south pipeline particularly in light of lower-cost alternatives,” CPUC said.

SoCal Gas said it was disappointed in the ruling and would submit written comments before the commission’s vote.

“The North-South Project would secure safe and reliable natural gas supplies for our customers in San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “The project would also provide substantial, long-term economic benefits for the region, as well as the rest of California and parts of the United States.”

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