Huge Power Line & Tower Project to Go Through La Habra Heights

The Towers are about 20 Stories Tall
* Picture from SCE Documents

Introduction

It is hard to over-state the impact these towers and lines will have on the City.

Southern California Edison (SCE) is proposing to add 500,000 volt power lines and towers through, and just north of, La Habra Heights.


* Picture from SCE Documents

The proposal can be found here (we are in Segment 8)
The California Public Utilities Commission information and calendar is here

This project WILL have significant impacts on La Habra Heights, and certain neighborhoods will be impacted to a greater degree.
Additional information is needed to determine the extent of view impacts.

The Power Lines and Towers will be visible to those on Casalero, West Skyline, East Skyline along Powder Canyon, Suncrest, Fullerton Rd (north of east) and probably other sections of the City.

Everyone who hikes or rides in Powder Canyon and along the Skyline Trail will see them and be impacted by them.

Since the towers will be twice as tall as the current one, they will rise above the ridgeline and be visible to more of the City.

Most assume that nothing can be done. This is not correct.
There are mitigation measures and project alterations that could lessen the impact to La Habra Heights.

These mitigation measures are most likely to be implemented if both residents and the City government and staff request/demand them.

What's Next?

The next step is the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report, projected for mid December 2008. This is where the impacts are discussed, concerns raised during the Scoping process are answered or addressed (hopefully), and the public can offer additional input, objections, etc.

For Additional Information

The CPUC and the Forest Service are conducting an environmental review of this project. To request additional information or to be added to the mailing list, please contact us by email, fax, or phone, as follows:

Project Mailing Address:

CPUC/Angeles National Forest
c/o Aspen Environmental Group
30423 Canwood Street, Suite 215
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Project Email: mailto:trtp@aspeneg.com?Subject=TRTP
Project Fax and Voicemail: (888) 331-9897

The Project

SCE currently has 220,000 volt lines and towers along the northern edge of the City. There are also some unused towers.

The proposed project will remove the unused towers and install the new ones along the same route.

The new towers will be IN ADDITION to what is there.

The towers will be about 40% - 100% taller than the existing ones, and twice as wide.


* Picture from SCE Documents

As an example, at the top of Punte del Este, by the Serafi property there is an existing 90 foot high tower. The new one, will be placed at a higher elevation, and be 180+ feet tall.

As a point of reference, the KOCE antenna (the red & white one) is 254 feet tall, consisting of an, approximately, 170 foot tall tower and 80 foot antenna.

The SCE towers will also be broader than the existing ones.

SCE proposes to widen the right-of-way by 100 feet, notably, through the Serafi property and Powder Canyon.

SCE also proposes to establish a new right of way behind the Rowland Heights Water Tanks, across Fullerton Rd, across the, former, Fitzgerald property (a 6 +/- acre vacant lot), continuing up the hill.
Their real-estate person said that they pay 80-90% of market value for the right of way.

Several new service roads will be constructed.

A couple of staging areas will be cleared and graded out.

EMR & EMF

The Electro-Magnetic Radiation (EMR, aka EMF) will be about double the existing ones, under the towers and lines. This is of interest, generally, because the Skyline trail, and other trails, meander directly under the towers and lines at several points.

"Safe" EMF is usually at some distance related to the width of the Right-of-Way. However, through La Habra Heights, the power lines and towers are near, or directly over, the Skyline Trail and connecting trails. This puts people directly in the highest EMF areas.

Magnetic Field Diagram from SCE Documents

Noise

The new lines will apparently be noisier, even with new high tech insulators.
I got several different answers about noise. One engineer said they would be about twice as loud. I later asked their “noise expert” “Will the new towers be noisier?”.
Staff members on either side of the noise expert immediately nodded “yes”, while the noise expert said they weren't sure, and was dependent on other variables.

All agreed that the lines would be much noisier during damp weather.
All agreed that the new noise will be in addition to the existing noise.

They said that they had no intention to clear the trees and bushes out from under the power lines, which is good.

Impacts

Some homes along West Skyline will be directly impacted by the new construction, as they are adjacent to the right of way. These homes will have visual blight, additional noise, and increased EMR.

Currently, the power lines and towers are not visible to most of the City, as they are on the back side of the northern ridge line.
Depending on the height of the new towers and the angle of view, many more homes will have detrimental visual impacts.
Those homes that are on, or north of, the ridgeline will have substantial view impacts.

The Habitat Authority property bears the most impact, which will be shared by all who use and enjoy the open space.
Huge new towers and thick power lines will degrade the natural environment.

The relative peace and quiet will be broken by the incessant buzzing of the new lines.

Those walking under the lines will be exposed to much higher EMR, which health effect, if any, is not established.

Mitigation

I talked to them about a number of mitigation measures.

Putting the new lines underground, particularly where they would be in close quarters to homes and trails, like at the top of Punte Del Este, could be worse than leaving them up.
Besides clearing the way, underground lines would need a large tunnel.
The biggest, and worst, impact is they would need transition stations where the lines go under and up again. These would be large and unsightly.
Obviously, SCE would be opposed based on the cost.
The person I spoke with said the only place in the world that has put the 500,000 volt lines underground is in Japan.

There are two types of towers, monopole and lattice. The current and proposed towers are the lattice type.
A monopole tower could be less of a visual impact. I think they probably would be better, but it is subjective and worth discussing.

Maybe they could convert the existing towers that would remain to monopoles too.
SCE staff stated that the monopole is not as strong and not as easy to perform maintenance.

The Monpoles Still are an Imposing Presence
* Picture from SCE Documents


I asked if the old towers could be upgraded to the new, noise reducing, insulators.
They said they could be, and it would lessen the noise. However, they were not thrilled with the idea as they would have to de-energize the existing lines to do it and it would cost them.
I think it is worth finding out to what extent noise would be reduced, and pursue it if it is significant.

I told their real estate person and environmental representative that they should establish conservation easements on the SCE owned properties through the conservation lands.
This would keep them natural forever, and preclude future development, creation of active recreation areas, renting out for commercial uses, etc.
They said they had never done that before.
I think it is reasonable mitigation for the negative impact the lines and towers will have.

They should be required to minimize construction activity impacts, such as operating times, noise levels, damage to city roads, lights, etc.

Staging areas should be revegetated with native or drought tolerant plants, and irrigated until established.

Alternatives

The new right of way through powder canyon and across Fullerton Rd, is so they don't have to run the new power lines over the top of the Rowland Water District tanks.
They will continue to use the existing path. This new one will divert one line.

This will introduce significant new visual blight on the northeast boundary of the City, degrade and impact the Powder Canyon area, as will as impact homes on Fullerton Rd and Oak Ranch.

I think they should consider another routing alternative or explain why having the power line go over the water tank will not work.

Some alternatives suggested are to bring the lines in from behind the San Gabriel Mountains through the Cajon pass.

On a closer scale, an alternative is to route the lines along existing railroad and utility rights of way along the 60 Freeway corridor through the City of Industry, and down into the Chino substation on a railroad right of way.

United We Stand

The residents, City Officials, City Staff and the Habitat Authority should work together to insist on adequate mitigation measures and the least impactful alternatives.
Together we can get more done than individually.

Below are the comments presented during the Scoping process, a series of meetings and opportunities for Public input about the effects of the proposed project.

Agency & Individual Actions referenced in Public Scoping Report
Agency
Letters
City of La Habra Heights Habitat Authority

7/26/07

Habitat Authority

9/27/07

Citizen Letters Roland vom Dorp Linda Martinez Stephen Blagden

We need MORE people to Get Involved, Write Letters, Attend Meetings, Voice Opposition, and encourage inter-City cooperation

At the May 2007 Council meeting, Edison introduced the plans and residents spoke in opposition and asked for rerouting and/or mitigation.

The Council asked the Southern California Edison representative to bring back more details and pictorial renderings from several perspectives showing how the lines would look.

Edison never returned and no further action was taken by the Council.

During the same time, residents of Chino Hills also protested the towers through their City.
At their June 26, 2007 meeting, the City Council of Chino Hills approved spending $600,000+ to hire a law firm and take other actions to oppose, prevent or reroute the power lines.
There was a subsequent legal protest sent to the Public Utilities Commission, and a public meeting with Edison regarding alternative routes. See the Chino Hills Website on their oppostion

While La Habra Heights cannot afford large sums of money, the City could follow what Chino Hills is doing and offer support to suggested alternatives such as rerouting through the Cajon Pass, or through the City of Industry along existing utility and railroad rights of way.

A public education and awareness campaign would help to let people know what is proposed and rally support for alternatives.

Edison should be invited back to answer the requests of the Council from May 2007.

Get Involved

The Draft EIR is coming out mid December.Read it, and offer comments, objections, and suggestions.

Demand that the City Council take action on behalf of the best interests of the City and residents.