Chino Hills residents win battle over power poles


After years of legal fighting, the local utility is bringing down 16 power poles. Officials say it could take anywhere from two to three days to take each one down.

While it's going to be a very lengthy process, residents are very happy that it's finally getting done.

Bob Goodwin is one of 1,500 homeowners who have been fighting to bring the poles down. Two years ago, the 500,000-volt transmission lines were put up over a 3.5-mile stretch of land by Southern California Edison. The goal was to bring wind-produced electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin.

Debbie Mountain, who relies 100 percent on a pacemaker defibrillator, had health concerns.

"I just couldn't believe how big these towers actually were. They didn't tell you, it's equivalent to a 20-story building," she said.

Despite residents' concerns of health, safety and declining property values, Edison refused to take down the poles. But when the president of the Public Utilities Commission saw the poles in person this summer, he ordered the lines underground, saying they ignored community values and placed an unfair burden on residents.

"The focus for our company right now is on moving forward and getting the underground system installed as safely and as efficiently as possible," said Kit Cole of Southern California Edison.

Edison says putting the electricity underground will cost more than $300 million in increased rates for customers, but residents say after years of living next to the 240,000-pound poles, they are just happy their voices were heard.

The whole removal process will take about eight to 10 weeks to get done. Once completed, Edison will immediately start construction on their 500,000-volt underground system. When that is complete, it will be the first of its kind in the United States. The only other ones out there in the world are in Shanghai, Tokyo and Moscow.

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