October 3, 2006

High voltage plan criticized

A proposed route for a high-voltage transmission line drew opposition Tuesday from the county Board of Supervisors, which wants the state to keep the line away from residents.

Southern California Edison wants to build a 500-kilovolt line from Santa Clarita to Lancaster, and has proposed going through an existing right of way in the Angeles National Forest.

But the U.S. Forest Service objects, arguing that a 500-kilovolt route through the forest would harm wildlife and complicate fire suppression.

Instead, the Forest Service has proposed a route that would skirt the Angeles, but pass through the rural communities of Agua Dulce and Leona Valley. Residents oppose that route, and Tuesday the Board of Supervisors also weighed in against the Forest Service plan.

“These are large, high-power utility towers with wires; they would be very impacting on the community,” said Paul Novak, Antelope Valley deputy for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

The supervisors, in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, have asked that the transmission lines be put underground for four miles in the Angeles and for about 3.5 miles through the city of Santa Clarita. That alternative would avoid Agua Dulce and Leona Valley, by going through the Angeles.

The Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to decide on a route in December.

A representative from the U.S. Forest Service could not be reached for comment.

Edison wants to replace 66-kilovolt lines the utility has running through the Angeles with 500-kilovolt lines, to bring wind-generated power from the Tehachapi Mountains into Southern California.

The project, originally budgeted at $90 million, is part of the utility’s goal of increasing its use of renewable energies.

Edison opposes the idea of running the power lines underground. That would increase the cost of the project, force street closures in Santa Clarita as crews dig into the ground and complicate efforts to fix future power outages involving the line, according to the utility.

The utility still wants to run the line through the existing right of way in the Angeles, along a 25.6-mile route from the Pardee Substation in Santa Clarita to the Antelope Valley Substation in Lancaster.

“We try to avoid any communities or putting a line in a place where there is no line today, in effect creating a new corridor,” said Chuck Adamson, project manager for Edison.

If the line passes through Agua Dulce or Leona Valley, a couple of homes could be lost to eminent domain, according to a report to the Public Utilities Commission.

By Alex Dobuzinskis

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URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2006/10/03/high-voltage-plan-criticized/