RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (KGTV) - San Diego Gas & Electric wants to put a new 36-inch gas pipeline through North County to replace an aging, overworked pipe already in place.
The new line would run a 47-mile stretch from Rainbow to Miramar, most of it along either Interstate 15 or Old Highway 395 and Pomerado Road.
That puts it through several neighborhoods, and people who live in the area worry about safety.
"We're in the blast zone if something ever happened," said Julie Goldman, who can see Pomerado Road from her windows.
SDG&E representatives say the new pipe will be safer than the existing one.
"We're doing this because of what happened in San Bruno," said SDG&E's Jennifer Ramp, referencing the gas line explosion that killed eight people in 2010.
The explosion in the Bay Area city led to new regulations and new rules for gas pipes. Ramp said SDG&E began inspecting all their existing pipes after that and replacing the existing 16-inch line built in 1949 became a top priority.
The new 36-inch pipe will also have more modern safety measures, including fiber-optic monitors, shut-off valves every 5 miles and mesh lining to prevent accidents from drilling.
The new pipe will also make the gas distribution throughout the county more even.
Right now, the region has two main lines -- a 1960 line (L3010) which handles 90 percent of the region's capacity, and one built in 1949 for the other 10 percent. The new pipe would ease the load on L3010 and make the split closer to 50/50.
The California Public Utilities Commission still has to approve the project. They're holding public comment meetings Wednesday and Thursday.
The Wednesday meetings will be at the Park Avenue Community Center in Escondido (210 E. Park Ave.), from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
The Thursday meetings are at the same time, but in the Scripps Ranch area at Alliant International University's Green Hall (10455 Pomerado Road).
SDG&E says the plan has the support of UCAN, a San Diego consumer protection group, as well as the San Diego Regional Chamber, the Firefighters Union, the SD Military Advisory Council, the Bioenergy Association of California and a handful of other organizations.
The utility expects the construction to cost around $639 million, which SDG&E says amounts to a rate increase of 57 cents per customer per month on natural gas.
They say the price is worth it.
"It's a small price to pay for safety," said Ramp.
The project should be completed by 2022.