You could call it a love-hate relationship of sorts.

California’s growing dependency on natural gas has finally gained the attention of the state’s public utilities commission, which rejected in 2018 a proposed $639 million, 47-mile pipeline in San Diego. San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas looked to replace a 16-inch line built more than 70 years ago with a 36-inch line to increase capacity on the system, saying much of that gas would be used to fuel power plants and renewables in addition to consumer, commercial and industrial uses. But in a 5-0 decision, the commission determined a new pipeline was unnecessary citing California “in an era of declining demand” as the state moves away from fossil fuels.

Declining? A quick fact check on California’s natural gas consumption reveals the state’s dependence on gas is actually rising, hovering above 2.5 TCF each year. More than 95% of its gas is imported by pipeline from the Southwest (hello, Permian), the Rockies and Canada. The state also imports more than 33% of its electricity.

Not surprisingly, the proposed San Diego pipeline is now back on with bells. Construction is slated to begin this year with an in-service date of 2022. As it currently stands, 90% of the natural gas used in the San Diego region—the second largest county in California—flows through the single existing line extending from the Riverside County line to Miramar.

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