July 2, 2002
Rate surcharge for upgrades to SDG&E security to increase bills
2 cents a month
By TOBY ECKERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON – Federal regulators have approved a rate
surcharge for San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to fund measures
aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks, including aerial patrols of key
Noting that its far-flung service territory includes military
installations like Camp Pendleton and North Island Naval Air
Station, the utility said its security plans "will provide a valuable
boost to national security."
The surcharge is expected to add about 2 cents a month to a
typical residential electricity bill and produce an extra $698,515 in
annual revenue for the utility. Capital costs associated with the
security upgrades total about $1 million and will add $590,000 to
annual operation and maintenance costs, the company said.
The added security is not a response to a specific threat, but "a
precautionary move" in response to a federal advisory that all
utilities improve their security, said Stephanie Donovan, a
spokeswoman for SDG&E.
Since Sept. 11, government officials and security experts have
raised concerns about the vulnerability of the nation's power grid
to terrorist attacks. Officials fear a strike on electricity transmission
systems, gas pipelines and other "critical infrastructure" could sow
panic, harm the economy or slow the response to a more
conventional terrorist attack.
Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission announced it would approve plans by
utilities "to recover prudently incurred costs necessary to
safeguard the nation's energy supply."
The commission approved SDG&E's plan late last week.
In addition to the aerial patrols, SDG&E is hiring additional
security guards for its facilities, installing perimeter alarms and
camera systems at transmission substations, expanding its
inventory of transformers and other spare parts and connecting
grid monitoring software to its Emergency Operations Center.