09 February 2012

Towers of Terror Troubled Turning of the Tide

For members of Hope for the Hills, opponents of Southern California Edison's Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, the name of their organization appeared to be edging closer to fulfillment when the California Public Utilities Commission decided to order Edison to submit a new report concerning the existing route and alternatives earlier this year, the direct result of an impressive lobbying effort by Hope for the Hills and the City of Chino Hills.

After an initial statement by Edison identified alternatives, including a city-proposed underground line using less power and on a different circuitry arrangement, the CPUC then ordered the utility to return with more details on the costs of the fifteen alternatives it presented on 10 January.

In last Saturday's Chino Hills Champion, an article by Marianne Napoles opened with his sobering statement:  "Chino Hills hasn't exactly abandoned its support of the Edison power lines through the Chino Hills State Park, but the option is becoming less likely with each passing day.  Napoles reported that Edison's latest 74-page report identified that the cost of the route favored by the city would run millions of dollars higher than the rough figure of $550-950 million included in the earlier report, this according to a statement by Council member Ed Graham.

The latest Hope for the Hills banner concerning the controversial Edison renewable power transmission line project north of Carbon Canyon.  This banner is along Carbon Canyon Road at the summit of the S-curve near Carriage Hills.

Graham was further quoted as saying that the reason for the additional estimate is that the January report only looked at the costs associated with the portion of the line through Chino Hills, not with connecting it with the other elements of the section (the 8th in the massive project running from Tehachapi in Kern County to points east from Chino Hills and Chino.)  Summing up, Graham stated: "The City still prefers the route through the State Park, but it looks highly unlikely based upon the increased costs.  It's unfortunate because for me, it's the best choice by far."

As for another alternative posited by the city that would use 400kV (rather than the 500kV now included in the project) in a single circuit design running underground either along Edison's right-of-way, where the massive 200ft towers now stand, or under city streets, principally Eucalyptus Avenue, the Champion article did not specify amended cost figures.  The article did, however, state the Edison argued that the proposal was not technically feasible, because of insufficient amperage, the problem of dealing with line failures at cables, including their splice and termination points, and the considerable physical and construction effects within the city with underground construction.  As the report stated, the underground alternatives pose "unacceptable risks . . . to the transmission system."

There is still the question of mediation, which along with the required new reports, was mandated by the CPUC's administrative law judge last month and this meeting has occurred this week, though Graham's statement on this is telling in terms of its vagaries: "It will be a back and forth situation to find common ground."

While Hope for the Hills has placed banners (including one that proclaims "Save Our Children," without specifying whose and why) and utilized other forms of expression for its idea that "it is not too late," Napoles' opening paragraph of her article certaily indicates that the options for the group and the City of Chino Hills are becoming more restricted as this process grinds on. 

Indeed, it seems to be the case that the delaying of the project by the CPUC was a complicit acknowledgement of the successful political pressure applied by Hope for the Hills and the City, but that pragmatism will likely dictate that the project will continue, albeit slightly modified.  Along these lines (!), the outcome of the CPUC-mandated mediation between Edison and the City will be interesting to follow


Anonymous said...

Hello there!

Hey, I was doing a little research yesterday on Stern (I typed "Stern + Yorba Linda" into Google) and lo and behold, your site popped up as a result! :)

I've been obsessed with the Pacific Electric for decades, re-tracing the old rights-of-way and such.

Anyway, it re-invigorated my interest in CC, and I have two questions for you, thinking that you of all people would have the answers:

1) have you ever re-traced the old path of the RR from Atwood/Richfield to the Olinda townsite? When I was a teenager, and went to CC Park back in the 80s, I ALWAYS tried to find traces of the railroad path (old ties, any rails or metals, berms, and remnants of bridges) but NEVER found anything. That old panoramic view of Olinda that you have was in an old book I used to own, maybe still have it in a box somewhere, and I used that as a source to find locations. Do you know exactly where the line went once it went north near the dam-site and split off then ended in Olinda? Have you been able to find any evidence of the rails or the line?

2) I have also scouted out South Yorba Linda for the last 20 years looking for signs of the Pacific Electric end-of-track at Stern. Do you know where this is exactly? I have another photo of the "end-of-the-line" for the PE in an old book called "Rails thru the Orange Groves".....i bet you're familiar with this book, right? :)

I suspect that it must be where the so-called "Richard M Nixon Freeway"....hmmf!.....ends there at Kellogg before Orangethorpe.

The book stated that beyond Stern the path was actually graded to the main AT&SF line near the river in anticipation of Huntington's dream to extend the line to Corona, and the photo showed the YL Lakebed right near this terminus.

Thanks in advance for any info, much appreciated.

Oh, and ONE other question. Are you familiar with the history of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens site? I have been OBSESSED with this Eden-like park for decades! In 1989, I had my mom drive me to the end of Esperanza and, what do you know, there were actually RUINS of some of the old buildings at the very top of the hill still standing from 1951, when the gardens were moved to Clairemont! Within 2 years, the hillside was COVERED with new homes and the 'gardens' were gone forever! :(


Matt George

"If you don't know where you are going........eventually you will get there." -- Robert Fripp

Matt George

Liberalism is a mental disorder - Michael Savage

prs said...

Hi Matt, welcome back. On the railroad spur from Atwood/Richfield, there is some information about that which I will put into a later post, but the line came up through what is now the dam and park and then did a split with part of the trackage going just west of what would be Santa Fe Avenue moving north from Carbon Canyon Road and others going just east. The history of Brea by Esther Cramer (who just died) has some good photos and a map that show this. There is also a rail newsletter article that I'll use for that post later.

On the end of the PERY line at Stern, I would assume that it is probably closer to where Imperial Highway/Nixon Freeway ends at Orangethorpe/Esperanza. There was a community out there, so it could have terminated at that point and then not have to cross the Santa Fe track. There is a 1930 map of the PERY system, but it doesn't go that level of detail. I also wonder if the route of Imperial Highway/Nixon Freeway is on the old right-of-way for the rail line.

Concerning the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, there is a lot of history there, going back to when the land was purchased by the Bixby family, prominent in Long Beach, Central California coast, Hacienda/Rowland Heights, etc. Susanna Bixby Bryant, who published a 1926 book about her family and the LA region that is still in print (I think), built the ranch house in the 1910s and established the garden in 1927 around the house. Though the garden moved to Claremont under the management of the Claremont Colleges in 1951, the ranch house remained through all the changes, including the building of homes (late 90s?) around it and is now a museum. There is a small garden there touted as a replica of the original. The Bryant Ranch House is open Sundays from 1-4 p.m.

Matt George said...

hi Paul,

thanks for responding!

Yep, you could indeed be right about the PE terminus being closer than I thought to the Santa Fe line beyond Kellogg St.

I'll definitely have to dig thru my boxes to find that picture, since it shows the lakebed-reservoir and Buena Vista Street in relation to the "end-of-track" site.

I've seen the map here on your blog from awhile back that shows the "y" split of the Olinda spur where they cross CC Road. It's pretty detailed, for sure....I was just wondering if you ever personally found any traces of the berm/trackbed remaining today. The only thing I really remember distinctly was the bicycle path that skirted the west hillside from CC Road all the way to the dam itself.

I took a look at a fairly recent satellite image of that area a few weeks ago, and the "behind dam" spot was completely torn up by tractors and re-graded, not much left of the rich and dense foliage there, perhaps for flood control purposes?

anyway, been to the Bryant museum many times, first time right about when it opened in the mid-1990s. I donated an old 1930s era map to them (they were extremely grateful!) and I believe they have it on display there under glass somewhere in the museum, as it depicted the RSABGs as a big square just north of the tracks.

The massive housing tract was first broken ground in 1988-9 and the Gardens site was covered with homes completely by 1991-1992.

Have a good one, and thanx again.

Matt George

prs said...

Hi Matt, I would imagine that all of the continued oil field development as well as the construction of the dam and regional park projeckt (get it?) long ago obliterated any physical trace of the spur. Thanks for your continued interest--sounds like you have a lot of knowledge of the history of the area.

Matt George said...

hey Paul,

thank you for responding (yet again!)

you know, I might want to re-visit some of these locations in Olinda/YL one of these days in the near future, but I reside in Escondido down south now. (the 'garbage dump' called Esco!)

I DEFINITELY want to take a trip up to Prado Dam and check out the site of Rincon/Prado (assuming there isn't too much flooded polluted water there of course!):(

Can we correspond by e-mail from now on? as opposed to posting long messages to these "comment" fields?

Perhaps we can plan to meet up sometime soon and walk the old locations.

AND.....since you are familiar with Crimso, Fripp and company, (by the way, 'ProjeKct' is spelled with the "K" first, capitalized according to Fripp's lexicon. :)

I was at the House o'Blues in Hollywood in March, 1998 when they performed that material live, and I'm always a bit shocked when others are actually familiar with the group.....you know, the so-called 'cult' status and all. :)

We might want to trade recordings. I have literally HUNDREDS of KC recordings going back to 1969 (most of them legal, some of them not)

anyway, here is my e-mail for you in case you feel the desire to investigate further.

The last couple of days I have been studying the ORIGINAL paths thru Cajon Pass before the HWY and FWY were constructed.....LOTS of history there, for sure!

Take care,

prs said...

Hi Matt, sure, I'll send an e-mail and I saw right after posting the last comment that I inverted and forgot to capitalize the Kc!