Valley News -

By Alex Groves
Associate Editor 

Fate of Southern California Edison power line projects still in limbo

 

Last updated 5/17/2018 at 8:57am



The fate of two large scale Southern California Edison projects that would place hundreds of new power lines in Lake Elsinore could be decided by California’s Public Utilities Commission In San Francisco as early as May 31.

The Valley-Ivyglen Project would add 27 miles of overhead power lines, 11 of which would be within the city of Lake Elsinore. The project would start in Menifee, enter the city at Central Avenue just east of Interstate 15 and wind through seven Lake Elsinore streets before continuing north and ending at the Ivyglen substation in Corona.

The Alberhill Substation Project would follow a similar trajectory, beginning in Menifee before entering the city at Mission Trail and winding through nine Lake Elsinore streets before continuing north and ending at a brand-new power station in the unincorporated county area near Lake Elsinore. There would be 11.75 miles of lines constructed or replaced.

Southern California Edison officials say The Valley-Iyglen project would take about two years and three months to construct and the Alberhill Substation Project would take about two years and four months to construct.

The projects are intended to provide additional electrical power to meet growing demand in the communities of Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Perris, Menifee, Wildomar, Murrieta and Temecula as well as nearby unincorporated communities.

An administrative law judge for the CPUC, Hallie Yacknin, offered a proposed decision April 4 that the Alberhill Substation Project was not needed to ensure reliable power for the area but said Southern California Edison should be able to proceed with the Valley Ivyglen project.

Yacknin’s proposed decision isn’t concrete, however, and could change as Southern California Edison provides more information to the CPUC. Thought it’s unlikely, the CPUC could also set aside Yacknin’s decision and proceed with both projects anyway.

The city has long been opposed to the projects as planned because of concerns that miles of new overhead power lines would be an eyesore that could affect economic development by bringing down property values.

“They’re a liability, too,” said Nicole Dailey, a senior management analyst for the city. “If you have someone crash into them now they’re down and that takes an arm and a leg and the time to get back up and running. There are other liabilities that come with that too for our community -- graffiti all over them, signs being posted to them -- there’s all sorts of issues that create visual impact beyond just a pole.”

Director of Community Development Grant Taylor said the city officials recently met with members board members of the CPUC to say they supported Yacknin’s recommended denial of the Alberhill Substation Project and also that they would like to see undergrounding on the powerlines that would be constructed for the Valley-Ivyglen project.

Taylor said other cities should play a role in that undergrounding effort.

“We want the other jurisdictions that are gaining a benefit, they should help pay the cost of the undergrounding,” Taylor said. “We’re having 11 miles of poles through our city. There’s seven other jurisdictions and they hardly have any poles in their cities. We’re the ones that are getting the brunt of the impact.

Taylor said the city has not met with SCE.

“Edison made no offer to meet or negotiate,” Taylor said. “They want what they want.”

Daily said she feels the city has done everything it could to represent the best interests of the community.

“A lot of time, effort, money, resources have gone into went into really trying to make sure we made our case at the CPUC and taking any and all opportunities we could do that.”

In response to requests for comment, SCE officials provided a written statement.

“Southern California Edison (SCE) has an obligation to serve all its customers, and to do so in the future, it will require critical grid upgrades, including the proposed Valley-Ivyglen Subtransmission Line project and the Alberhill System project,” the statement said. “As Riverside County continues to grow, it’s critical that the region’s electrical infrastructure keeps pace.

“SCE looks forward to continuing its work to plan for and provide solutions to ensure the region’s future electric needs are reliably met.”

In letters sent to the CPUC April 24 and April 30, SCE has said Yacknin’s decision was based on unsubstantial evidence and contained legal and factual errors. The letters try to cite additional evidence for why the Alberhill System Project is needed before asking the CPUC to modify or set aside the decision.

“Because the (proposed decision) erroneously disregards these facts and because the (proposed decision) findings denying the (Alberhill System Project) are legally insufficient, SCE urges the CPUC to modify or set aside the Proposed Decision and instead adopt a Final Decision granting the (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity).

Lake Elsinore city officials are urging residents to share their comments and concerns with the CPUC. Comments can be emailed to [email protected] and must include the project’s proceeding number, Application 07-01-031 et. al.

More information can be found by visiting http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=4524.

Alex Groves can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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