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Overview/History

Photo of Utility Poles

The City of San Diego, through its Utilities Undergrounding Program, is currently relocating approximately 15 miles of overhead utility lines underground throughout the city each year.

In addition to utilizing statewide funds for undergrounding, the City's aggressive plans for under-grounding overhead utilities is funded primarily through a 2003 California Public Utilities Commission approved undergrounding surcharge on San Diego residents' electricity bills.

In the City approximately $54 million per year is spent to convert unsightly overhead power and communication lines with safer and more reliable underground systems. These funds are dedicated exclusively for undergrounding and may not be used by the City for other purposes.

Although the City has been undergrounding lines since 1970, approximately 1,000 miles of overhead utility lines remain to be undergrounded. It is estimated that nearly all residential areas will be completed within the next 54 years.

To see when your area is scheduled for undergrounding, or for general information about the City's Utilities Undergrounding Program, call the information line at (619) 533-3841.

The Utilities Undergrounding Program consists of two types of projects: one involves SDG&E Rule 20 (or SBC tariff 32) projects that must meet certain public benefit criteria consistent with the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC)'s state-wide program. This program relates primarily to overhead lines along major city streets. The other type is known as a Surcharge project which is where the project is funded by the increased franchise fee authorized by the CPUC in Resolution E-3788. Projects that fall into the surcharge category are typically found in residential areas that do not meet Rule 20 criteria.

The goal of the City of San Diego is to convert every residential overhead utility line in San Diego to underground service over the next 54 years. Approximately $10 million worth of Rule 20 A projects are completed in the city each year. Under Resolution E-3788, the City spends an additional amount of money, approximately $44 million each year, on surcharge projects, which quadruples the pace of undergrounding throughout the city.

Before and After Photos

The following photos demonstrate the difference between utility lines above ground and lines underground.

Mission Boulevard, circa 1972 - Before Undergrounding
Mission Boulevard, circa 1972 - Before Undergrounding
Mission Boulevard, circa 1972 - After Undergrounding
Mission Boulevard, circa 1972 - After Undergrounding
Photo of street with utility poles
Photo of Street With Utility Poles
Photo of street without utility poles (photo has been digitally altered)
Photo of Street Without Utility Poles (Photo has been Digitally Altered)