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Larger power lines inch closer to Chino Hills

CHINO HILLS – This city’s battle over Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which is set to run through a residential area, has taken another setback.

SCE began the process of replacing 200-foot electrical towers, after California’s 4th District Court of Appeal last week denied the city’s request for an injunction to stop the construction.

“We are not surprised,” said Denise Cattern, the city’s public information officer. “It’s common for these types of petitions to be denied but we are taking every step we can.”

The towers are part of a $1.8 billion project that would bring wind-generated electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles basin as part of a state mandate to use more sustainable energy.

Residents and city officials have voiced concern that the towers, which would be twice the size of the existing ones, could fall on or near homes during windy weather or an earthquake.

“Many in the city look at this as a catastrophic thing by putting those towers in the right of way,” Mayor Bill Kruger said. “They are dangerous to those neighborhoods around there.”

In early 2009, the city filed a complaint in San Bernardino County Superior Court against SCE, claiming that the project would “overburden the easement over City property.”

Last April, Judge Keith D. Davis ruled that the California Public Utilities Commission has exclusive jurisdiction regarding the route used by Edison and has rejected the city’s lawsuit.

In June, the city appealed judge’s ruling. The request for injunction was aimed at halting the construction until the appeal is resolved.

“All we are asking in our appeal is that we be granted the right to defend our property in court like any other property owner,” city attorney Mark Hensley said. “The trial court wrongfully denied us this right.”

The entire project is expected to be finished by 2014, officials said.

“The Tehachapi project recognizes the importance of tapping into renewable energy sources and exemplifies Edison’s commitment to help California meet its goals for a clean, green energy future,” said Theodore Craver, Jr., CEO of Edison International, in a statement.

Staff writer Neil Nisperos contributed to this report.