An administrative law judge has ruled against undergrounding high-voltage powerlines through a portion of Chino Hills citing the state's ratepayers should not have to pay the cost of the project. A proposed decision by Administrative Law Judge Jean Vieth has denied the city's request to place the lines below ground, saying while undergrounding is feasible and could be completed on a timely basis "the cost is prohibitive and should not be borne by ratepayers at large for the benefit of a few."
However, an alternative proposed decision by state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey sided with Chino Hills to underground a portion of the project and orders Southern California Edison to construct an single circuit line underground.
Every proceeding is assigned a ALJ and a commissioner. Both decisions were issued Tuesday.
The process continues and the full commission will consider the oral arguments in the case on June 26.
The earliest the ALJ's decision or Peevey's viewpoint are expected to be up for discussion or vote by the PUC is on July 11.
For five years Chino Hills has insisted Edison's 5-mile right-of-way is too narrow for the 198-foot high-voltage towers, and that they cause hazards and potentially unknown health issues.
City officials and a residents group - Hope for the Hills - have been advocating the lines to be built underground, while Edison officials have said undergrounding would be expensive and makes the system less reliable.
The Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project was approved in 2009 by the PUC, but it has been on hold since 2011 as the final outcome is debated by the commission.
The 225-mile Tehachapi project costs $2.1 billion, and when complete is expected to bring wind-produced electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin. Estimates for undergrounding through Chino Hills would be an additional $268 million to $296 million, according to the ALJ's documentation.
The strip of land being considered for undergrounding through the city is about 3.5 miles long and begins west at the end of Eucalyptus Avenue and goes between Pipeline Avenue and the 71 Freeway and then into Chino and Ontario.
Six years ago in May residents first approached the City Council asking them to help fight Edison's proposed route.