SCE, Chino Hills return to court

Southern California Edison (SCE) and the city of Chino Hills, Calif., return to the courtroom March 19 for a prehearing conference before an administrative law judge (ALJ) regarding the ongoing dispute over the siting of power lines through the city.

The prehearing conference is to determine the positions of the parties, issues, and other procedural matters, according to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) notice of prehearing conference.

TransmissionHub contacted both SCE and the city of Chino Hills but neither was able to comment on the issues that will be discussed in advance of the proceeding.

The overarching issue is the city’s petition to modify the CPUC’s December 2009 authorization of construction of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP); specifically, the portion of the project that runs through Chino Hills.

SCE began constructing a five-mile stretch of the 250-mi, 500-kV line through the city in May 2011, but residents objected after the first tubular steel poles were erected, claiming their visual and economic impact was far greater than previously envisioned.

“The [SCE] simulations were very accurate,” a city spokesperson told TransmissionHub March 16. “[But] there’s no greater impact than to see them first-hand; pictures can’t do them justice.”

The city filed an objection with the CPUC, which ordered on Nov. 10, 2011 that work on the Chino Hills stretch of the project be halted, and SCE was ordered to provide the CPUC with information on alternate routes.

SCE did so and, on Jan. 10, submitted a 134-page document and 353 pages of accompanying attachments.

On Feb. 14, the two sides started mediation under the CPUC’s alterative dispute resolution program in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Though several sessions were held during which proposals were presented and discussed by both sides, the parties “were not able to reach agreement on a resolution that met the needs of both parties,” the two sides said in a March 6 joint statement announcing that mediation had been suspended.

To date, the city of Chino Hills has spent approximately $4m in its fight with SCE, which began in August 2007, the city spokesperson said.

“From the very beginning, we understood the need for power and the desire for what they’re considering to be green power; that has never been an issue,” the spokesperson said. “It’s always been about overburdening the easements” with structures that are too large for the easement.

California has a mandate to obtain 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

For its part, SCE has previously called the Tehachapi project, “a critically important, high-voltage transmission line, the timely completion of which is essential for California’s progress toward its aggressive renewable energy goals.”

Once completed, the $2.2bn Tehachapi project will be capable of delivering up to 4,500 MW of wind energy from the Tehachapi area to population centers in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties in California, according to SCE’s website.

SCE is a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX).