July 15, 2007

Powerful decision nears

With a group of Bouquet Canyon residents outspoken against the project – in part to what is seen as a visual disturbance – a key decision looms over a high voltage power line project that will run into Santa Clarita.

State utility officials approved the Antelope-Pardee 500 kV Transmission Project in March. It plans to deliver power generated from future wind farms in the Antelope Valley to an electrical substation in the Valencia Industrial Center and distribute it throughout Southern California.

Angeles National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron must still sign off on the project for it to be fully approved. Part of the route runs through the Angeles National Forest north of Santa Clarita.

Noiron’s decision was anticipated in May, but has yet to come.

On Wednesday, Forest Service spokeswoman Sherry Rollman said a decision should be made, “In the very near future.”

The proposed route by Southern California Edison, which is pursuing the project, would have been one that is already in place.

But the Forest Service chose an alternative route through Bouquet Canyon for the power lines that would carry 500,000 volts of electricity. Opponents say it would be as close as 1,000 feet to the Big Oaks Lodge, a restaurant located in the forest, and to the scores of nearby cabins on Bouquet Canyon Road.

Ron Howell lives adjacent to Bouquet Reservoir. The proposed route the Forest Service was seeking would cross several hundred yards east of his home. He and other Bouquet Canyon residents have grouped together to fight the proposed route and keep the area visually pristine.

Planes used to fight forest fires – also known as “Super Scoopers” – fly over his home to pick up water from the reservoir in a westwardly direction.

But Forest Service officials are seeking to place the power lines on the east side of the reservoir, where the planes would enter.

“So imagine how they’d have to alter their flight paths to get to the reservoir,” Howell said.

Marian Kadota with the Forest Service’s Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team has said the towers and 66 kV lines on the current route on the west side of the reservoir would be replaced.

She’s also said that while visual impacts would occur with the Forest Service’s preferred route, the physical impacts would be less of a concern. Towers are excluded from being installed in riparian areas near Bouquet Creek.

But fire concerns are the main one for cabin residents along Bouquet Canyon. Firefighters would be unable to fight fires underneath the lines due to the potential for a line to arc and injure one of them while they are firefighting.

The preferred mid-slope route, Kadota has said, would be safer than the current one on top of a ridgeline. She said ridgelines are where firefighters successfully fight fires.

If approved, the higher-capacity power lines would run through Santa Clarita’s more northern residential communities in Saugus and Valencia, near the Valencia Industrial Center. City officials have opposed an alternative route through the city and raised issues with the project’s approval process.

The route is part of a larger, roughly $1.8 billion renewable energy project proposed for completion in 2013.

In late-June, Southern California Edison announced it had applied with the California Public Utilities Commission for similar projects that would extend to the Ontario, the San Gabriel Valley and the western Inland Empire.

By Kristopher Daams
Signal Staff Writer

The Signal

15 July 2007

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2007/07/15/powerful-decision-nears/