ROSEMEAD – Six-year-old Alexandria Casillas is scared.
Not of the boogie man but rather of another monster – one that stands 200-feet near her home in Chino Hills.
The child is talking about the high-voltage transmission poles and towers that are being installed through the city’s neighborhood by Southern California Edison as part of the state mandate to generate more sustainable energy.
The $2.1 billion Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2009 and is expected to be complete with 500-kilovolt power lines by 2015.
“They look taller in the night to me and I’m afraid they might fall on my house,” said Alexandria.
“I think they will hurt me … and they scare other little children.”
Pushing a barrel of plastic black rats with little labels reading “Our children are not lab rats,” Alexandria was among more than 200 Chino Hills residents protesting the project in front of the corporate offices of Southern California Edison on Thursday.
The protest was organized by Hope for the Hills, a grassroots organization that opposes the towers.
“This is not a nimby issue of not in our backyards,” said Bob Goodwin, Hope for the Hills president. “We are all for green energy and support green energy, but green energy should not hurt and this project is destroying the city and its residents from a health, safety and property value perspective.”
The half-mile stretch of Walnut Grove Avenue was filled with the protesters who wore neon shirts holding signs that read “Shame Edison,” “500,000 volts too much too close” and “CPUC, stop SCE from using Chino Hills as their lab rats. Re-route the power poles.”
The group took to the streets for four hours that morning using megaphones, whistles and car horns to make sure Edison was hearing their message.
Since 2007 the organization has rallied against the installation of these power lines. This is their fifth protest; their second at SCE headquarters.
In addition, for four years, the city has fought Edison, with a lawsuit, arguing that the easements in the city are too narrow for the expanded power corridor. The city’s battle with Edison has cost $2.4 million.
The project is being installed within Edison’s right-of-way from Chino Hills’ western border near Tonner Canyon, through the city and eventually into Riverside County.
Officials of Edison said they understand resident don’t like the transmission lines next to their back yard but the line is being built to meet the state’s 33 percent renewable requirement for the benefit for all the customers of the state.
“If the decision is made to move the lines, certainly SCE will not make that decision it will always be made by PUC, then the cost would need to be borne by all of the customers,” said Alis Odenthal, Edison spokeswoman.
She added, in the PUC’s environmental impact report it states that the current route is the “environmentally superior route” of all the ones that the commission considered.
“And the commission considered a large number of routes through the Chino Hills area already, but this route was selected as the environmentally superior,” Odenthal said.
The project has had some push-back.
Last month, the PUC ordered Edison to stop construction on its expanded power line project and ordered it to present “feasibility, cost and timing” for five alternative routes in two months.
Edison is expected to “serve testimony, with supporting data” on the alternative routes by Jan. 10, according to the PUC.
Alterative routes Chino Hills proposed, including under grounding the lines, using shorter poles and how much it would cost to take down the existing poles is expected to be disclosed next month, Odenthal said.
“We are always very happy to have people express their opinions and the protesters were very courteous and didnt interrupt our work place,” Odenthal said.
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