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Power struggle: Hundreds protest power line project

Nearly 350 people attended a meeting Thursday in Cottonwood regarding the Transmission Agency of Northern California's proposal to build 600 miles of power lines across the state. Steve Kerns, a biologist who helps develop environmental impact reports for wildland resource managers, spoke to a gymnasium so full that some were forced to stand or sit on the floor.

Nearly 350 people attended a meeting Thursday in Cottonwood regarding the Transmission Agency of Northern California's proposal to build 600 miles of power lines across the state.

Steve Kerns, a biologist who helps develop environmental impact reports for wildland resource managers, spoke to a gymnasium so full that some were forced to stand or sit on the floor.

Like many in the audience, Kerns learned through certified mail that TANC plans to build a power line on his property, where his family has lived for three generations.

Whether they can do so through eminent domain or if they must negotiate for the property is still unclear, he said.

Those impacted by the project have until May 31 to submit comments regarding the public scoping process or risk not being allowed to comment.

"If you do not get your input in by the end of the month, you will have no legal standing," Kerns said.

Kerns called for the 6,800 property owners the TANC transmission project could impact to demand a $100-per-acre trespassing fee from the agency before it sets foot on any private land.

He also encouraged the audience to think of specific ways the installation of power line towers as large as 2,000 square feet could... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Nearly 350 people attended a meeting Thursday in Cottonwood regarding the Transmission Agency of Northern California's proposal to build 600 miles of power lines across the state.

Steve Kerns, a biologist who helps develop environmental impact reports for wildland resource managers, spoke to a gymnasium so full that some were forced to stand or sit on the floor.

Like many in the audience, Kerns learned through certified mail that TANC plans to build a power line on his property, where his family has lived for three generations.

Whether they can do so through eminent domain or if they must negotiate for the property is still unclear, he said.

Those impacted by the project have until May 31 to submit comments regarding the public scoping process or risk not being allowed to comment.

"If you do not get your input in by the end of the month, you will have no legal standing," Kerns said.

Kerns called for the 6,800 property owners the TANC transmission project could impact to demand a $100-per-acre trespassing fee from the agency before it sets foot on any private land.

He also encouraged the audience to think of specific ways the installation of power line towers as large as 2,000 square feet could affect them, and to submit as many of these to TANC as they can. In preparing an EIR, a company will address common complaints with a general statement, and the more specific the issue the more complicated it becomes to deal with, Kerns said.

In Kerns' experience, biologists and analysts are contacted before the public scoping process begins. He has yet to see evidence the agency's suggested routes are based on on-site research nor has he been contacted by anyone conducting on-site research in his area, he said.

Kerns finds the plans to build power lines without existing power plants to connect to suspicious. TANC documentation suggests the project will connect to clean power plants, including ones that use geothermal energy.

But in seven years of research, Kerns has found installing a geothermal project where TANC proposes would be impractical because of cultural and environmental issues, he said.

Also speaking was Lisa Goza, whose Round Mountain community was one of the first to rally against the project and has since created the Web site stoptanc.com. Goza said TANC has admitted in public meetings that the project may be tied to coal.

TANC has already approached Goza about buying her property, which she said she has no intention of selling.

The offer not only angered Goza, but it could be illegal to have offered to purchase her property so early in the process.

Even if TANC is unable to absorb and develop on occupied properties, those same properties could become worthless as their vistas are marred by massive towers and transmitters. According to Goza, TANC admitted at one of its public meetings that it could have lines as close as 30 feet to an existing property.

TANC's proposal is something that must be disclosed to Realtors, Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh said.

That makes for especially troubling news to Bowman Road resident Jim Glover. The electrician owns his own business, but as North State unemployment rises, Glover was considering selling and moving out of the property he's been on for 25 years.

Now that TANC's graphs show his entire house and surrounding property would be impacted by a power line, that may be impossible.

Public outcry has grown large enough that the boards of supervisors in both Tehama and Shasta counties have drafted letters to TANC asking for additional public meetings.

Baugh has taken it upon himself to go even further, sending letters to residents that warn about the project in case they have not received notification from TANC - even though the city of Redding has a 2 percent stake in the project.

"If there's any person in this room that has a doubt this is real, and that there's a possibility that your home may be purchased, or that a forced purchase is possible, you need to think again, because it is very real, absolutely very real," Baugh said.

Headlining the meeting along with Goza and Kerns, Baugh told the audience to write to TANC, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which has a 30 percent share in the project and as many other agencies as they could. Families should write individual letters instead of signing multiple names to one letter, he said.

Though they are not directly responsible for the actions of TANC, Baugh encouraged the audience to write to their legislators as well.

"I guarantee you if within the next few days, they receive another 300 or 400 letters, (if) you spread this to your neighbors, than you're going to generate a response from your local elected and your federal elected and your state elected officials," Baugh said.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, had a staff member at Thursday's meeting.


Source: http://www.redbluffdailynew...

MAY 16 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20330-power-struggle-hundreds-protest-power-line-project
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