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San Diego Gas & Electric Company History Timeline


When five San Diegans met in the parlor of the Consolidated Bank on April 18, 1881, to incorporate the San Diego Gas Company, they formed a successful enterprise that would serve a fledgling city whose population had just passed 3,000.

Readers of The San Diego Union of April 7, 1881, learned that the first shipment of machinery and equipment purchased for installation at the gas plant had arrived the day before aboard the the steamship Orizaba, and that construction of the new works was begun immediately.

Within 58 days, construction of the plant was completed, three miles of mains had been laid, and on June 2, 1881, the new company began making gas for distribution to its first customers, who were 89 in number.


The movement for this work began in May, 1882, when a committee of the city council was appointed and made a report on the city s needs.


The first use, of coal was on April 19, 1883.


The first franchise granted was to Doctor John McCoy, of Pasadena, October 18, 1885.


During 1886, as a result of the land boom and increasing population in San Diego, the company s business increased rapidly, and in December of that year, the directors decided to enlarge the gas plant.

Nothing was done at the time, but there was considerable discussion, and by the spring of 1886 the trustees were fairly forced by the growth of the city to take some action.


The road was opened for business on January 1, 1887.

Actually, the company preferred to form a consolidation with San Diego Gas Company rather than to operate its own plants, and in March 1887 approached the Gas Company with that proposal.

The proposal was accepted, and in May 1887, San Diego Gas Electric Light Company was organized and incorporated as the successor to San Diego Gas Company, whose original owners retained control in the new organization.

The proposition to issue bonds in the sum of 400,000 for the construction of the system was voted on in the spring of 1887, and carried by a large majority.


The old Jenney arc light machines were moved to the plant when it was completed in 1888, and an incandescent light generator was added later.

Meanwhile, the city s first incandescent lighting service was already being furnished from a small plant at India and Kalmia Streets, which had been installed in 1888 to furnish power to the city s first electric railway, built in that year by the Electric Rapid Transit Street Car Company.


The power house was built in 1889, at a cost of 30,000, and was placed at the head of the canyon on Fourth and Spruce Streets, where some remains of the cement foundations may still be seen.

The San Diego Cable Car Company was incorporated and began work in August, 1889.


The line was formally opened on June 7, 1890.

In December, 1890, the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company purchased the plant and took control.


After being for some time in the hands of a receiver, its property and franchise were sold to an electric railway company, in January, 1892.

The transformation of all the lines to electric power began in May, 1892, and was carried vigorously to completion.

Eventually, in 1892, the machinery was purchased outright by San Diego Gas and Electric Light Company.


1895 Pictured is a woman and her baby in front of SDG E s Station A. Guess what is there today The Padres dugout at Petco Park is about exactly where the woman is standing.


Sitting on top of their work are linemen extending SDGE s electric system to the rural areas of North Park and east San Diego in 1904.


The first manager was Roscoe Howard, who served until July 1, 1905.

Public Company Incorporated 1905 as San Diego Consolidated Gas Electric CompanyEmployees 4,175Sales 1.77 billionStock Exchanges New York Pacific.


The South Park and East Side Railway, an enterprise growing out of the operations of the Bartlett estate under the presidency of E. Bartlett Webster, began active construction in March, 1906.

The electric generating capacity of Station A was increased rapidly, beginning in October 1906 with the installation of the company s first turbine-electric generator, a 500-kilowatt machine.

During 1906, this company rebuilt the entire gas and electric plants, at an expense of about 750,000.


Early in 1907, it will begin operating 10 miles of interurban track between San Diego and Chula Vista.


Gas service to Coronado, however, was started in 1909.


In 1910 San Diego Consolidated acquired the United Light, Fuel Power Co. of San Diego.


In 1911 the company hired its first female employees, pictured here.


In January of 1921 the company purchased the power plant of San Diego Electric Railway Company at Kettner and E Street.


Permanent electric service to Coronado from San Diego was not begun until 1922.


In November 1923 the company, headed by President Robert J. Graf and Chairman John J. O Brien, contracted to connect its transmission lines with those owned by Southern Sierras Power Company of Pinon, California.


By 1927 the company s system included two steam electric generating stations, and it had signed an electric power interchange agreement with Southern California Edison Company SoCal Edison . SoCal Edison was based in Rose-mead, California, and served parts of the Los Angeles area.


The dam was erected by the United States government beginning in 1931 on the Colorado River.


SDG E employees prepare for a party to celebrate the electric lights being turned on for the first time in Julian on Saturday, January 16th, 1932 at 7 p.m. sdge sandiegohistory.

The company began supplying natural gas in September 1932.


The utility s sales dipped somewhat during the Great Depression, dropping to 6.8 million in 1934, but growth resumed the following year.


Back in 1936, SDGE donated the scoreboard at Balboa Stadium, which was once home to many baseball games before the Pacific Coast League Padres moved to Lane Field, a couple miles toward the waterfront.


In June 1939 the company entered a new agreement to increase the amount of power it exported to its wholesale customers in Tecate, Mexico.


Under local management since 1941, the company s growth, paralleling that of the communities it serves, has been tremendous by comparison with any previous period in its 75-year history.

At the close of 1941, the company was serving 112,615 electric customers and 89,318 gas customers, and its total investment in plant, property, and equipment was less than 50,000,000.


First Annual Pacific Beach Fiesta Day in 1946 OldSanDiego VintageSanDiego HistoricSanDiego PacificBeach.


The population of SDG E s service area had grown to 620,000 by 1949, and its sales were up to 23.3 million.


SDG E s first turbogenerator came into service in 1954.


By the end of 1955, the company was serving 250,138 electric customers and 196,597 gas customers, and its investment in plant, property, and equipment exceeded 187,000,000.


That all changed in July 1959, however, and all field crews wore hard hats as part of SDGE s safety program.


H.G. Dillon became president in 1961, succeeding E.D. Sherwin, who remained on the board.


The picture, taken in February 1962 doesn t show our crew that had to hike up to two miles because trucks couldn t take them to the damaged lines.

The second South Bay unit began operation in June 1962.


Recognize this area In 1963 SDGE was taking part in two programs of nuclear research originated by General Atomic GA . Pictured here is GA s headquarters.


SDG E owned 20 of the plant, located in San Onofre, California SoCal Edison owned 80 . The plant went into operation in 1967.


In April 20, 1968 the Electric Building's dedication ceremonies were opened by pressing a button which caused a spark of electricity to cut the ribbon.

In what could be a scene from the TV series, Mad Men, here s the company lunchroom in 1968.


SDGE celebrated its 88th anniversary in 1969, and Nancy Barter celebrated by wearing a Gibson Girl outfit at the company s Old Town office.


By 1970, its ninth consecutive year of record earnings, it was one of the fastest growing utilities in the United States.


Here s an SDGE conservation auditor helping a customer with a home-energy audit circa 1972.


In April Robert Morris, president since 1975, was elected chairman of the board of directors, and Thomas A. Page, formerly executive vice president and chief operating officer, was elected president.

Check out how much paper was used back in 1975 as employees collected more than 130,000 signatures to support a company project.


In December 1978 SDG E resorted to buying power, signing a ten-year contract with Tucson Gas Electric Co. for up to 500 megawatts of power annually.


In March 1979, needing cash, it sold a generating unit to a group of banks to raise 132 million, then leased back the unit since it needed the output.


In 1980 inflation, a time lag between application for a rate increase, action by the California Public Utilities Commission CPUC , and weather both warmer in winter and cooler in summer contributed to a disastrous year.


There was a positive development in December 1981, when the company received CPUC approval to construct the eastern interconnection transmission line, later named the Southwest Powerlink, that connected SDG E with less expensive, coal-fired power generated in Arizona and New Mexico.


San Onofre Unit 1 returned to operation in November for the first time since closing down for engineering modifications in 1982.

By 1982 San Diego had grown into the eighth-largest city in the country.

Pacific Diversified Capital Company, an SDG E subsidiary since 1982, was activated to manage all nonutility operations.

In 1982, construction workers were working on the Southwest Powerlink, a 280-mile, 500-kilovolt line from San Diego to Arizona.


In June 1983, work began on the plant.

Both units were scheduled to begin full power production by the end of 1983.

After several difficult years, 1983 held the promise of improvement in SDG E s financial health.

The annual meeting in 1983 was a popular event which allowed shareholders to get the latest information about the company.

As part of the Southwest Powerlink project, two connections were made to northern Baja California in 1983.


In 1984 both Moody s and Standard Poor s upgraded SDG E s bond ratings again.


In 1985 the company had record earnings of 3.25 per share, and San Diego itself continued to enjoy record residential growth.


The United States Navy, SDG E s largest single customer, announced in 1986 that it planned to withdraw from SDG E s system and contract for a cogeneration plant to meet its power needs.

An employee incentive program begun in 1986 to encourage money-saving ideas helped the company save 2 million.


The experimental Heber geothermal plant was shut down in 1987 because its production costs were too high.

The company hooked up its one millionth customer, and revenues rose to 2.1 billion from 1.9 billion in 1987.


In November 1988 SDG E ended its agreement to merge with TEP. The two utilities had disagreed over the best way to counter SCEcorp s efforts to stop their merger.


In December 1989 SDG E approached the CPUC to begin the licensing process for a new two-unit, 460-megawatt, combined-cycle power plant.


In February 1990 California state Attorney General John Van de Kamp and an advocacy division of the CPUC stated their opposition to the merger.

SCEcorp Chairman Allen retired at the end of 1990 with a decision still pending.


On February 1, 1991, two judges with the CPUC had not yet voted.


In another move to augment its power resources, SDG E anticipated returning its Silver Gate plant to service in 1992 due to a growing customer base.


On March 11, 2010, the CPUC issued its decision setting forth the process and rules for the limited re-opening of DA which resulted in a 4 year phase in schedule beginning April 11, 2010.


On December 12, 2012, the Switching Exemption rules were further modified by D.12-12-026 which adopted a lottery process for customers to submit their Notice of Intent to Switch to Direct Access.

Family and friends spent the evening enjoying music, food and dancing at Night By The Bay 2012 in Chula Vista Bayside Park Photos courtesy Dale Frost Port of San Diego .

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