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Residents protest 'green' power lines

Many claim towers spoil natural beauty

Posted: November 23, 2008 7:17 p.m.
Updated: November 24, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Mike Milligan, one of the owners of Cavi at Big Oaks, points to the hill behind the restaurant where the proposed power towers will be located. Milligan, along with several residents of the Bouquet Canyon area, do not want the big power towers to be built, stating they will be unsafe during fires and destroy the beauty of the canyon.

 

Second in a two-part series

A row of towers topped with electrical transmission lines slashes through the hills above Mike Milligan's restaurant in the Angeles National Forest.

The towers are visible from the back of Milligan's Cavi at The Big Oaks, but he says it's not those power lines that concern him.

The restaurateur is bothered by the lines that Southern California Edison will soon install midway down the slope in Bouquet Canyon as part of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project.

The towers would dominate the view from Milligan's backyard bar and grill and he believes they would spoil Bouquet Canyon's rare natural environment.

When fully constructed, the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project is slated to carry wind-generated electricity from Tehachapi and the Antelope Valley to Southern California where some 4.8 million customers await.

State law mandates that 20 percent of energy generated must come from renewable energy sources by 2010.

All well and green, Milligan says. But what about preserving nature?

"This is so unique here," Milligan said. "This is where the animals are."

Fire danger
Many of the cabin and business owners who live along Bouquet Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest are concerned about brushfire dangers.

Ron Howell, who owns property along Bouquet Canyon, believes power lines placed part-way down the slope in the canyon would prevent the use of Super Scoopers - water-dropping aircraft used on major brush fires.

He also worries that ground crews won't be able to battle blazes the size of 2007's Buckweed Fire.
"We're opposed to (the power lines) for the hazard to firefighters," said Howell, who has battled Edison over the project since 2006.

Town councils for Agua Dulce, Acton and Leona Valley have joined Howell and the association of Bouquet Canyon cabin and business owners in the fight against Edison's project.

Edison project manager Don Johnson said fire is a concern wherever transmission lines are installed.
"When firefighters are dropping water on a fire, they can't drop it directly on transmission lines," he said. "They also can't fight fire under transmission lines directly."

However, firefighters are able to stage on either side of the transmission lines, which Johnson said is a common practice.

Edison also trains first-responders how to handle power lines during fires.

"We do this training so they know what they can and can't do," he said. "It's not an unusual situation for first responders to respond to."

Route was changed
Johnson said the route that Edison originally proposed would have been on or near the ridge above Bouquet Canyon and would follow an existing transmission line.

However, information gathered during a two-year environmental review led Edison to the current mid-slope route.

Ed Frankovich, a cabin owner in Bouquet Canyon for 30 years, would be able to see the power lines from his property.

Frankovich is from Indiana and was drawn to Bouquet Canyon's "peacefulness," he said.

With the power lines, the natural environment would change, he said, adding: "I just don't understand what ‘green power' means when they plow through a national forest."

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