SoCal Edison Removes All Chino Hills Power Towers

(November 18) Four months after it was ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission to do so, Southern California Edison has completed the dismantling of the 197-foot high transmission towers the utility giant had located along a 3.5 mile span of Chino Hills  as part of the so-called Tehachapi Line.
Utilizing two cranes, including one with a lifting capacity of 250 tons, Edison crews cut the tubular poles into sections and then lowered them to the ground. The crews began removing the poles on September 25. The last of the structures yet standing, at the hill near Peyton and Morningfield drives, was removed on November 9.
In 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission, over the city of Chino Hills’ protest, granted Southern California Edison clearance to erect a series of 197-foot high power transmission towers through the heart of 44.7-square mile Chino Hills along a long-existing power corridor easement owned by the utility.
Fearing a host of problems from the imposition of the towers, including significant negative impacts on property values in the city, the Chino Hills City Council authorized the expenditure of over $2.3 million to employ attorneys and make other efforts to contest the Public Utility Commission’s action, including a suit against Southern California Edison alleging the company had “overburdened” the power line easements. That legal effort failed when West Valley Superior Court Judge Keith D. Davis ruled the California Public Utilities Commission has exclusive jurisdiction regarding the route used by Edison.  Davis’s ruling was upheld when Chino Hills appealed it to the 4th District Court of Appeal.
In 2011, Edison erected 18 of the towers within Chino Hills within a portion of its 150-foot wide right-of-way, which runs for 5.8 miles from Tonner Canyon to the Riverside County line, before a city appeal to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Public Utilities Commission Chairman Michael Peevey in particular succeeded in a temporary halt to the towers’ construction being granted in November 2011 while a potential undergrounding alternative was explored.
Ultimately, in July, the California Public Utilities Commission board of directors voted 3-2 to reverse its 2009 decision and directed Southern California Edison to underground the lines, which are intended to link what is planned as the world’s largest windfarm consisting of hundreds of electricity-producing windmills in Kern County to the Los Angeles Metropolitan basin.
According to Edison, the dismantling of the towers cost nearly $4 million. Edison is now taking bids on undergrounding the project through a 3.5 mile portion of the city. The anticipated cost for that is $224 million to $300 million. The remaining 1.5 mile stretch of the Tehachapi Line through Chino Hills in the area known as Oak Tree Downs will remain above ground.

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