Valley News -

CPUC votes down plan to place new power poles in Lake Elsinore


Last updated 8/25/2018 at 1:03pm

After more than three months of delays, today the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decided not to approve Southern California Edison’s (SCE) request to place hundreds of new power poles in the City of Lake Elsinore.

The CPUC determined that SCE fell short in its attempt to prove that 10 miles of new powerlines within the city, and a large substation with a dual row of 500-kilovolt transmission towers just north of the city, will be necessary to assure reliable power in the Elsinore Valley.

The project, known as the Alberhill Substation Project, was slated to cost over $464 million with those costs being passed onto ratepayers. The full Commission’s decision largely followed the proposed decision of Administrative Law Judge Yacknin issued last April related to SCE’s Alberhill Substation and Valley-Ivyglen Projects.

“This has been a long battle and the decision to require better evidence of the need for the Alberhill project is a victory for the city and our community,” said Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson. “I have to thank everyone who stepped up, spoke up, and stayed engaged on these important projects.”

With the decision, the CPUC ordered SCE to submit new evidence spanning nine separate categories, including evidence of the need for the Alberhill Project based on updated and more reliable electrical demand projections. Equally critical, CPUC President Michael Picker underscored the need for SCE to directly engage the community and address project impact in his comments.

“Finally, under the continuation of the Alberhill proceeding, SCE has the opportunity and obligation to make good on its recent commitment to engage with all of the affected cities to address community concerns and find solutions and compromises that work in favor of everybody, even if it means some alterations to the proposed project,” he said.

The need for SCE to engage affected cities resonated with Lake Elsinore City Manager Grant Yates.

“SCE is a valued partner," he said. "However, their failure to consider reasonable undergrounding requests left us no choice, but to oppose these projects. We have been encouraged SCE’s recent efforts to discuss undergrounding options. Ultimately, though, this is a 'show me' city council and we need to get real mitigation in the city to alleviate project impacts. We hope SCE will take President Picker’s words to heart.”

For the past three years, the city has taken a proactive approach to address concerns related to these projects and to defend the community from any potential negative impacts. Mayor Natasha Johnson, Mayor Pro-tem Steve Manos and city staff have held several face-to-face meetings with the commissioners’ staff and advisors to share community concerns and advocate for undergrounding of the lines for both projects.

“We are not done fighting,” said Mayor Johnson. “I am hopeful that SCE will follow the direction of the commission and make a good faith effort to work with us to reduce the impacts to our community.”

While the commission did vote to approve the Valley-Ivyglen project, the city is continuing conversations with SCE to try to make minimal project changes that could significantly reduce impacts on the community.


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