POSSIBLE TALKING POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR COMMENTS TO CPUC
1. Demand an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be conducted. Our number one goal is to
convince the CPUC to conduct an in-depth analysis of legitimate alternative routes such as a
direct 5.25 mile underground route rather than the proposed 12 mile circuitous above-ground
route. This is also the only way to get a more robust wildfire study.
2. In addition to this demand for an EIR, feel free to discuss any or all of the following possible
concerns about placing a new set of 69kV transmission lines through our community and closer to our
Short list of Talking Points:
Wildfire risk due to additional above ground power lines
Declining property values
Impact on scenic and hiking trails
Impact on homeowners insurance
Longer more detailed list of above talking points:
Aesthetics - Powerlines impact our viewshed (technical term they use) and the bigger and taller they are, the more they significantly effect our enjoyment of our beautiful environment. Write about our scenic hiking trails and how even taking a picture needs to be carefully planned just to cutout the looming power lines. No one likes the aesthetic impact power lines have on our community and the CPUC needs to understand our concern.
Cumulative Aesthetic effect on our environment means the changes over time due to the power lines. This is pertinent to anyone who moved here before 2010 when the current towering steel poles replaced the much more descrete wooden poles (see animation above). For those of you who moved into the community prior to 2010 talk about the difference between now and then. Talk about the impact the current poles have had since they removed the wooden poles and replaced them with the much taller and ominous steel poles. Talk about how the thought of a second set of steel poles 50 feet closer to our homes and doubling the problem is intolerable. You get the idea.
The CPUC has made an initial determination that going from our current situation of one set of steel poles to two sets, while not perfect, is not considered a significant change and therefore not a significant effect on our environment. While we don't agree with this finding, that is their current decision. However, there is a section of (CEQA (California's environmental statute) that requires the CPUC considers the "cumulative impact" which means considering not just the impact from the current proposal but also considering the impact from past and future projects. Consideration of past projects has not been analyzed to this point and for that reason is one of our best, if not our best chance, to convince the CPUC to take a closer look at the impact of the proposed project by preparing an Environmental Impact Report, an EIR.
One analogy of the cumulative change since pre-2010 to now and into the future (if SDG&E get to installed their second set of steel poles) is like going from living on a quiet neighborhood street, to living on a four lane arterial road, to living on a freeway, without the wall protecting you from the noise and effects of the power lines both aesthetically and the dangers they could cause such as wildfires. Going from a quiet neighborhood street to a freeway is a SIGNIFICANT change.
Wildfire risk due to additional above ground power lines:
Power outages - Were you affected by the preemptive power outages during the Santa
Ana wind events as recently as last fall? Discuss how those affected your family, traffic,
and the risk of adding more high voltage power sources to our community.
If you have you had to evacuate your home due to fires discuss the traffic, the limited
entry/exit scenarios, and your personal story, and fear for your family and home.
Property value of your home - Studies show homes within communities that have power lines
in close proximity all have some decrease in property values. The closer to the power lines,
the greater the decrease, however we all are all impacted. If you have any experience
regarding how the power lines have negatively affected your home’s value, please share.
Appraisal, market analysis, buying or selling your home, etc.
Impact on our scenic and hiking trails - Talk about how you use this area for hiking, dog
walking, enjoying sunsets and our open spaces, etc, and how the presence of these new lines
will affect how this space is used.
Impact on homeowners insurance - due to the fire risk? Discuss any difficulty in finding and
keeping an insurance provider. Change in rates?
EMFs - The CPUC does not consider EMFs something dangerous enough to stop a project
because the science on the effects of EMFs are not conclusive. However, the CPUC
acknowledges the possibility of potential harmful effects on our most vulnerable population, our
children. Couple this with the fact that studies have shown as much as a 99% decrease in
EMFs when lines are buried and that seems like a logical reason to underground these lines if
it protects our children from a potential danger. Unfortunately, there is no level of EMFs that
has been agreed upon in the field as dangerous and without a number to measure against the
CPUC has set no limit for EMFs. In fact, this issue has come before the CPUC for
years/decades and the CPUC considers this a settled matter until more conclusive studies are
published. The CPUC’s only standard regarding reduction of EMFs is that the utility is
obligated to do anything it can that will reduce the EMFs if it cost less than 4% of the original
project cost. If it cost more than 4% the utility does not have to make those modifications to
the project. Specifically the tentative approval by the CPUC of SDG&E’s proposal says
“Presently, there are no applicable federal, state, or local regulations related to EMF levels from
power lines or related facilities, such as substations. However, the CPUC has implemented a decision
(D.06-01-042) requiring utilities to incorporate “low-cost” or “no-cost” measures for managing EMF
from power lines up to 4.0 percent of total project cost. Four percent of total project budgeted cost is the benchmark in developing EMF mitigation guidelines, and mitigation measures would achieve some noticeable reductions.” SDG&E has said to underground these lines would cost 116% more therefore they are not required to bury the lines to reduce the EMF. One of our arguments is that the cost to underground
the 5.25 mile route is significantly less than SDG&E’s estimate. An EIR could require a more
detailed cost estimate of the underground alternative to determine the real difference in cost. Regardless of
the CPUC’s position, do you have a personal story to share regarding EMFs? What is it worth
to you to underground the lines?
Noise - Power lines emit noise due to corona discharge. If you have heard the humming either
while trying to enjoy the scenic trails that are often directly under the current powerlines or if
you can hear them at night in your “private” space called your home, tell your story.
Additional comments - feel free to share any additional stories, concerns, etc. If it’s your story -