17 June 2013

Towers of Terror: Takes Two to Tangle

On returning from vacation this weekend, news was learned, first via the Champion and then other news outlets, about the "Towers of Terror two-fer Tuesday."

That is, 11 June wasn't just the day when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge June Vieth was to issue her finding, albeit it non-binding, about whether the massive 198-foot tall transmission towers for the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) should be continued as started or redirected underground.

There was another event in store:  this being a declaration by CPUC's president Michael Peevey, a former Edison exec no less, about the issue.  This was not something discussed in the local press in its coverage of the pending decision by Judge Vieth, perhaps because it was not known that Peevey would weigh in on the same day.

In any event, Vieth has determined that, while rerouting the lines underground was feasible, it was not warranted and that the towers should be completed in their current configuration.

Peevey, however, took another tack and determined that the towers should be brought down and the lines redirected in the underground configuration fought for by the grassroots community organization, Hope for the Hills, and the City of Chino Hills for several years now.

This dichotomy means that Hope for the Hills has hope still alive and well and the City can continue to fight on another day.

While that day has long been assumed to be the CPUC's 11 July meeting in San Francisco, it turns out that the matter could be pushed back to the following confab on the 25th or perhaps beyond. 

This isn't the first time, as Hope for the Hills president Bob Goodwin has pointed out, that the CPUC's judge and commissioners disagreed about a given issue.  The question, of course, is whether the full commission will side with Judge Vieth's view or adopt Peevey's perspective.

With that, it will be at least three plus weeks and maybe six weeks or so before a final verdict is handed down.  With the polarized positions of Vieth and Peevey, it will be very interesting to see what the deciding ruling will be and why it was made.

For coverage of Tuesday's events, click here for Canan Tasci's coverage in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin as well as here for Molly Peterson's "Pacific Swell" blog on the Web page of KPCC radio.

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