Chino Hills Residents Perform Through Their Power-Line Plight

Residents in Chino Hills have been fighting against power lines erected by Southern California Edison as part of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project

Attempts to thwart the construction of 198-foot-tall power lines in Chino Hills have entered the digital realm, expressed in a music video posted on YouTube by the community group, Hope for the Hills, which organized in 2007 against installation of the lines.

The 3 minute 37 second video (below) begins with a close up shot of a guitar being played, its music overshadowed by a constant hiss.

That’s “the noise that is generated by 125,000 volt power lines,” according to rolling captions on the video uploaded by YouTube user danajlamb.

“Southern California Edison is trying to run 500,000 volt lines within 70 feet of homes in the community of Chino Hills,” the captions continue. “This song was inspired by our fight against this injustice.”

Officials with Southern California Edison said they are aware of the video, but declined to comment citing ongoing negotiations with the Commission.

Donning t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Save Our Community” above a depiction of a power line with a red slash running through it, a dozen singers belt out the chorus: “Pack it up, get out; pack it up, get out; S-C-E.”

Dozens of nearly 200-foot tall, 500,000 volt transmission lines now line several neighborhoods in Chino Hills.

The towers, erected on a piece of land owned by SoCal Edison since the 1940s, can be seen throughout much of the city and are part of the company’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, intended to help meet California’s renewable energy goals – in this case, using energy produced by wind turbines.

Three of the project’s 11 segments have been completed, said Paul Klein, spokesman for Southern California Edison.

Ultimately, the project will encompass more than 200 miles starting in Tehachapi, south through Santa Clarita and San Gabriel Valley and east to Ontario.

The lines will be able to carry up to 4500 megawatts of renewable energy – that’s enough to power 3 million homes, Klein said.

Residents in Chino Hills cite community aesthetic, health and safety as their reasons to push back against poles.

It was unclear whether a project of this magnitude had been executed before in similar proximity to residences, Klein said.

Some pole opponents say they would prefer the power lines be buried under ground.

In November 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission required SoCal Edison to submit cost and engineering information so the possibility of undergrounding could be evaluated.

Communication between the utility company and the city of Chino Hills broke down months ago when the two could not reach a resolution, but the Commission announced Thursday that talks will resume.

The video alludes to the 2007 fires that ripped through Malibu Canyon, the alleged result of SoCal Edison and other firms overloading power lines, according to public utility investigators.

It also cites the 2011 windstorm that knocked out power to nearly 440,000 Edison customers, some of whom were without electricity for up to a week.

When asked if similar safety fears were legitimate, SCE officials said it would be “inappropriate to comment” on those “separate incidents” while negotiations are under way.

Their movement, which has garnered the support of politicians, including Orange County Congressman Ed Royce, has spanned years and miles.

Footage in the video depicts demonstrations at an SCE booth demonstration at the L.A. Fairgrounds, successful lobbying efforts at a California Public Utilities hearing in San Francisco and a group meeting with state legislatures in Sacramento.

So far, “Pack It Up (Get Out)” has slightly more than 2,000 views. The musical plea mixes twangy guitar riffs and a vocal styling reminiscent of early '90s hip hop.

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