Representatives Gary Miller, R-Brea, left, and Ed Royce, R-Orange, listen to testimony on Saturday. (Khai Le/Correspondent)

 

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Created: 04/14/2012 07:30:41 PM PDT

CHINO HILLS – Hundreds of residents turned out to voice their concerns to lawmakers about property values and public safety at a congressional hearing Saturday on the controversial Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which involves erecting 200-foot electric towers in the city.

The transmission poles and towers are being installed in Southern California Edison’s right-of-way from Chino Hills’ western border near Tonner Canyon through the city and eventually going into Riverside County.

The House Financial Services subcommittee hearing included congressmen and representatives from the Federal Housing Administration and the Housing and Urban Development Department.

R-Orange, appeared to sympathize with the 450-500 residents, many donning green Hope for the Hills t-shirts, who attended the hearing at Chino Hills City Hall.

Miller chided what he saw as the cause of the problem: unfunded government mandates.

Under state law, electric utilities must produce 33percent of the electricity they deliver to customers from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. To meet this state mandate, Edison is upgrading its infrastructure in the region, including the installation of new high voltage towers and power line structures in Chino Hills, according to Miller.

The hearing gave panel members the chance to hear from homeowners who expressed concerns that the new 200-foot towers and 500,000-volt power lines will negatively impact home values and their ability to access FHA financing.

Royce said that with the government now playing such a large role in the mortgage market – owning or guaranteeing 97percent of all new mortgages nationwide – it is critical that people understand the rules by which the Federal Housing Administration and other government agencies underwrite mortgages in areas like Chino Hills, where high voltage transmission towers are being built

“The building of the Chino Hills transmission lines has been devastating for this community,” Royce said. “Two hundred-foot towers are located only 70 feet in some instances from existing homes. Roughly 1,000 homes are within 500 feet of this project.”

Bob Goodwin of the community group Hope for the Hills said values are down roughly 17 percent on average since the project started to become a reality in May.

“For those homes closest to the towers, the impact is all the more devastating,” said Royce.

The $2.1 billion Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project – approved by the state Public Utilities Commission in 2009 – travels through a 5-mile stretch of Chino Hills and is intended to carry wind-generated electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin.

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