By Norris McDonald
AAEA published an article on March 28, 2013 recommending that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) should reject the proposal to underground the electricity transmission lines through Chino Hills, California. We received quite a response (see Comments) from residents of Chino Hills. I was challenged to visit Chino Hills in order to get a direct view of the power line issue. I promised to visit and I did two months later on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. The videos below chronicle that visit.
I found that any issues the residents of Chino Hills might have with the transmission lines are mirrored in Compton. The videos below also chronicle the issues in Compton. The bottom line is that undergrounding electricity transmission lines is very expensive. And California already has the highest electricity rates in the country. These rates might not bother residents of Chino Hills, but they sure do impact low-income people in other areas. Rates will by necessity rise in the future due to other electricity infrastructure requirements. The median income in Chino Hills is $100,000 per year compared to $40,000 per year in Compton.
Renewable energy is also being delayed or prevented from being delivered because of these types of obstructive challenges to reliable electricity delivery.
The visit only fortified my view that the lines should not be placed underground. Moreover, I visited Compton the same day and observed multiple electricity lines running through that community. I have concluded that if the CPUC decides to approve the underground plan for Chino Hills, then they should approve a similar plan for the lines in Compton. To rule otherwise will represent an environmental injustice and we will strongly consider challenging the CPUC on this issue. In fact, if the Chino Hills plan is approved, we will probably begin an all out campaign in Compton to highlight the disparate treatment. AAEA has increased its outreach in Compton and intends to continue expanding its activities in this community.
We wrote the original article based on the general view that affluent communities successfully fight these types of projects, whereas less affluent communities end up with most of the nation's industrial infrastructure. We believe the burden should be evenly shared. Thus, our comparison of Compton and Chino Hills. The residents of Chino Hills will continue to scream at us because their self interest trumps any concern about the power lines running through Compton. Such lines are needed to provide the power we need in America. All we are saying is that communities should share in accepting some degree of inconvenience. The distribution lines throughout the most affluent community in Chino Hills are already all underground. Whereas such distribution lines run above ground throughout Compton.
The ball is in your court CPUC. We think this issue represents a larger picture that should be publicized nationally, depending on the CPUC decision.