PG&E pays local group $718,000 in legal expenses

A Peninsula watchdog group will receive a major payout from Pacific Gas and Electric for costs associated with fighting to reroute the Jefferson-Martin power line connecting two substations in Redwood City and Brisbane.

The group, 280 Corridor Concerned Citizens, will receive more than $718,000 in reimbursement for attorneys, experts and consultantsthat members paid up front starting in August 2004. Two other groups, Women’s Energy Matters and Californians for Renewable Energy, will also receive payments of $127,000 and $35,000, respectively.

“We're pleased with the decision and feel justified for the amount of time and work that we dedicated to the project,” 280 CCC member Lara Lighthouse said.

Edward O'Neill, attorney for 280 CCC, originally requested almost $1.07 million, but was awarded the smaller amount by an administrative law judge in proportion to the “contribution” the group made to the project, court documents show.

The group was successful in influencing the route, environmental review and issues regarding the health and safety risks associated with electromagnetic field radiation, court documents show. “280 Citizens was instrumental in developing the record regarding EMF exposure levels in routing the project, and the need to modify PG&E's proposed EMF Management Plan for the Jefferson-Martin project,” administrative law judge Charlotte TerKeurst wrote.

Burlingame Councilwoman Terry Nagel, who followed the project closely, commended the group for its hard work and called on PG&E to re-establish a fund for such public advocates so that they are not required to risk so much of their personal savings in their bid to influence projects in the future.

Pleased that the issue has reached a conclusion, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno highlighted the estimated $350,000 of the original request that 280 CCC did not receive. “PG&E is pleased that the [California Public Utilities] Commission has spared our customers from having to fund time spent by 280 CCC on matters that did not substantially contribute to the commission decision on the Jefferson-Martin transmission line,” Moreno said.

The 27-mile 230kV transmission line, which is on schedule to be completely installed by the end of next month, is expected to enhance powerreliability to San Francisco, Moreno said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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