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Tragedy of Tehachapi transmission project

In 2007, SCE proposed its $1.72 billion dollar Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) to bring renewable wind energy to Southern California. A small portion of the project passes through the community of Chino Hills. This is the only community along the 173 mile route where SCE proposes to construct 200-foot high, 60-foot wide poles within 75 feet of homes. SCE has never done this before. Nor has any utility in the country ever installed a 500,000 volt transmission line so close to existing homes. Over 1,000 homes will be within 500 feet of the line, along with daycares, places of worship and parks.

The priorities of a particular community may vary by population density, location, business prospects, etc., but no matter where you reside, your local firefighters know that their chief duty within the community is to protect life first, property second, and then defend other resources. Unfortunately, it seems that Southern California Edison has a different notion of what is important to their customers.

In 2007, SCE proposed its $1.72 billion dollar Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) to bring renewable wind energy to Southern California. A small portion of the project passes through the community of Chino Hills. This is the only community along the 173 mile route where SCE proposes to construct 200-foot high, 60-foot wide poles within 75 feet of homes. SCE has never done this before. Nor has any utility in the country ever installed a 500,000 volt transmission line so close to existing homes. Over 1,000 homes will be within 500 feet of the line, along with daycares, places of worship and parks.

Evidence uncovered in hearings before the California Public Utilities Commission shows that despite SCE's adherence to approved construction standards, over the past 40 years numerous SCE towers have... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The priorities of a particular community may vary by population density, location, business prospects, etc., but no matter where you reside, your local firefighters know that their chief duty within the community is to protect life first, property second, and then defend other resources. Unfortunately, it seems that Southern California Edison has a different notion of what is important to their customers.

In 2007, SCE proposed its $1.72 billion dollar Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) to bring renewable wind energy to Southern California. A small portion of the project passes through the community of Chino Hills. This is the only community along the 173 mile route where SCE proposes to construct 200-foot high, 60-foot wide poles within 75 feet of homes. SCE has never done this before. Nor has any utility in the country ever installed a 500,000 volt transmission line so close to existing homes. Over 1,000 homes will be within 500 feet of the line, along with daycares, places of worship and parks.

Evidence uncovered in hearings before the California Public Utilities Commission shows that despite SCE's adherence to approved construction standards, over the past 40 years numerous SCE towers have collapsed. In fact, the city has hired specialized engineers and spent over $1 million to develop an alternative route to achieve a win-win scenario, embraced by both the community and environmental groups. The city's proposal reroutes an existing line in Chino Hills State Park to join up with the TRTP line outside the park. The city's proposed route is a shorter, more efficient solution because it eliminates the need to build 16 miles of transmission line through populated areas and shortens and relocates existing lines to make them less visible to park visitors.

A diverse coalition have come together to support the city's proposed route. Along with state and local lawmakers concerned about public safety, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the local chapters of the Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitat League and Hills for Everyone also support the alternative project because it will reduce transmission infrastructure and improve Chino Hills State Park and wildlife habitat.

Although SCE states publicly that they "will only construct the project in accordance with all guidelines to ensure that transmission projects meet or exceed all public safety and construction standards," SCE has expended, and continues to expend, huge sums of money opposing the alternative and promoting its far more risky route. Public safety is clearly not their highest priority.

While the CPUC is the public agency that ultimately decides where the transmission lines will be placed, they have yet to weigh in on the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. Unfortunately, in the middle of the CPUC's decision-making process, the CPUC's project manager for the TRTP case negotiated and then took a job with SCE. Consequently, both Chino Hills and environmentalists are concerned that the information gathering and environmental analysis the CPUC will rely on was largely supervised by an employee who now receives a fatter paycheck from SCE.

The fire chief for the Chino Valley Fire District recently testified that the tall TRTP poles so close to homes place people and structures at grave risk because they severely limit firefighters' ability to fight fires and make it completely unsafe for aircraft to make water drops, and the proposed alternate route would actually improve the fire district's ability to fight fires in the state park.

The chief and the city have their priorities right, as do many environmental groups. Then why, despite all the logical and realistic arguments, has SCE shown a lack of concern for the people most affected?

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, represents the 29th District. Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, represents the 60th District.


Source: http://www.pasadenastarnews...

NOV 8 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23032-tragedy-of-tehachapi-transmission-project
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