CHINO HILLS – At least 200 residents have signed a petition against a proposal by Southern California Edison to expand electrical transmission lines that cross the city.
Edison plans to upgrade and expand 170 miles of power lines from Mojave to Mira Loma as part of a $1.8 billion project to deliver electricity generated by wind power in Techachapi Pass in Kern County.
As a result, several miles of now-inactive transmission lines will be used to carry this electrical load. At the same time, the height of the towers will be increased.
Jeanette Short, who lives within 125 feet of Edison’s towers and easement, said the lines have been inactive for the 15 years she has lived there.
“All homeowners were told the lines would remain inactive unless a huge emergency took place,” she said.
Chino Hills resident Ken Mangen said he almost bought a house near the power lines but backed out when he was informed of the project.
“The uncertainty of the activated power lines, where the structures would be placed and possible health effects all play in my decision,” Mangen said.
Short and Mangen are just two of the residents who have voiced concerns about the power line project, ranging from aesthetics to noise to house values to possible effects from electromagnetic fields.
“You can’t get live people to stand under the tower for 10 years” to conduct a thorough study, said Short, a mother of four.
“We have a very young neighborhood, and a lot of kids play in the easements,” she said.
“We’re networking amongst ourselves for support to help oppose the route that Edison is using,” she said.
By June 29, Edison is expected to submit its application for the expanded power lines to the California Public Utilities Commission to seek authorization for the project.
“The line that passes through Chino Hills is a significant portion of the project,” said Chuck Adamson, Edison’s senior project manager.
The proposal plans to increase the current towers that run through the city between Grand Avenue and Carbon Canyon Road from their inactive 220-kilovolt single-transmission line to a 500-kilovolt double-circuit line.
The towers will also increase in size from between 120 and 140 feet, to between 150 and 195 feet.
Adamson said Edison must bring in a significant amount of renewable energy to comply with a series of laws and rules.
He said Edison must increase its renewable energy production to 20 percent by 2010.
“Currently (there’s) approximately 700 megawatts of wind energy” from the Tehachapi wind generators, he said.
“When the line is complete, it will be able to carry 4,500 megawatts, and one megawatt will supply 650 homes,” he said.
Construction of the power line project would begin in 2009 and be completed in 2013.
Alis Clausen, manager of public involvement for the project, said the proposed Chino Hills route was made public in March.
“The reason it was selected is because we had an existing right-of-way, which minimizes environmental impact,” she said.
Clausen said SCE held an open house in Chino Hills in late April where 20 experts were present to answer questions from residents.
Clausen said about 80 people attended the open house and she anticipates the PUC will provide meetings for additional opportunities for the public to comment.
At the May 22 City Council meeting, Edison representative Jerry Silva said that possible alternative routes would be considered during the environmental review process.
The council postponed a vote at last week’s meeting on whether to hire a consultant to help prepare an opposition to the proposed project and analyze the feasibility of route alternatives.
An overview of what a consultant would do for the city was prepared by City Attorney Mark Hensley. It included a cost of $600,000 for the city to become an active participant.
“The decision is not one the city ultimately controls,” Hensley said, but it does have the ability to be actively involved in the environmental review process.
Hensley said more than 1,300 Chino Hills houses are within 500 feet of the power lines and about several thousand are within 1,500 feet.
“Our residents have a number of concerns, and they are legitimate,” he said.
If the council approves the hiring of a consultant, an opposition will be submitted by the city during the 30-day response window provided by the PUC.
Jack Sahl, Edison director of corporate environmental health and safety, has done extensive research on the health effects of living near power lines.
“We don’t think there’s a cancer connection, but we’re actively pursuing this question with a collaboration with state and federal agencies,” Sahl said.
The Edison project will also cross nearby Chino, but does not appear to be adjacent to residential areas, said Chino Mayor Dennis Yates.
By Shelli DeRobertis
17 June 2007
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