For an interactive map of the project, please visit the CPUC’s website at www.cpuc.ca.gov/Environment/info/aspen/cltp/map.htm.
The effects of high voltage transmission lines on property values have been thoroughly analyzed for other transmission projects and found that property-specific factors such as neighborhood features, square footage, size of lot and irrigation potential are more likely to be major determinants in affecting property values than the presence of overhead transmission lines such as those for Coolwater-Lugo. It has been found that any effects of transmission lines on property value are generally small in comparison to other relevant factors.
Certain portions of the Coolwater-Lugo Project will require new right-of-ways or easements. SCE’s proposed transmission route maximizes the use of existing transmission corridors and is currently designed to avoid existing residential dwellings and commercial buildings where reasonably feasible. The CPUC and BLM are conducting an extensive review of the project, which will include additional opportunities for public comment, and will determine the final project route. The regulatory review process is expected to last through the fall of 2015.
Eminent domain (commonly known as "condemnation") typically refers to the right of the state or utility to acquire private property for public use following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property. It is not SCE’s preferred method of acquiring private property. SCE prefers to attempt to negotiate a mutually agreed upon sale before beginning an eminent domain action. Generally, “just compensation” is defined as the "fair market value" of an asset. A third party usually conducts an appraisal of the property to determine its “fair market value.” SCE must follow a stringent and specific legal process in order to use eminent domain. This process involves a court proceeding which follows strict rules and regulations to ensure that the property owner is treated fairly.
The most affordable industry standard is overhead power lines. That said, it is SCE’s responsibility to consider many factors, including cost and environmental impacts, when proposing new electric transmission lines. Transmission lines are rarely constructed underground, because underground lines are less efficient, cost significantly more, have unique maintenance requirements, typically involve substantial traffic disruptions while being installed, can require significant vegetation clearing, and present challenges in emergency situations. Compared to an equivalent overhead line, undergrounding can cost 10 times or more than the cost of an equivalent overhead transmission line. Customers ultimately pay for the higher cost of these system investments.
SCE’s application for Coolwater-Lugo is currently under regulatory review by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). SCE filed an application in August 2013 with the CPUC for approval to construct the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project and filed an amended application in April 2014 with the CPUC to provide additional information. SCE also filed an application with the BLM for a right of way grant in August 2013.
The final scope of the Coolwater–Lugo project will not be known until the CPUC and BLM approve the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) and Record of Decision (ROD), respectively. As part of the approval process, the CPUC and BLM review the applications, engage the public, and prepare a joint Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will offer opportunities for public comments. The CPUC will schedule hearings as appropriate before making a final decision on the project. The next opportunity for public comment will be during the CPUC and BLM’s joint scoping meetings, which will take place in August 2014.
As the regulator for investor owned utilities, the CPUC is responsible for reviewing and approving major transmission projects, such as the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project. This project will undergo an environmental review by the CPUC as the state lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In addition, since the Coolwater-Lugo transmission lines would traverse federal land, the project will also undergo an environmental review by the BLM as the federal lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
SCE estimates that a final decision on the project will take approximately two years total from time of filing the application with the CPUC. SCE filed its application with the CPUC in August 2013 and is seeking a final CPUC decision by 4th quarter 2015.
Public outreach and communications are critical elements of SCE’s planning process. SCE identified and reached out to key stakeholders in the Coolwater-Lugo project area to solicit input and provide information about this Proposed Project. This included local elected officials, property owners, environmental groups, non-governmental organizations, and members of the public. Community workshops were held in November 2011 and March 2012. Public open houses were held in June 2013. Invitations for each of these meetings were advertised in multiple local newspapers and mailed to property owners within a minimum of 300 feet of the project, as well as other interested stakeholders. Spanish language advertisements were also sent out. SCE’s August 2013 project application and April 2014 amended application were advertised in multiple local newspapers and mailed to property owners within 300 feet of the project. Notifications and project newsletters were mailed to residents within 300 feet of the project. SCE has also conducted multiple media briefings with local newspapers. SCE has provided and continues to provide project updates at public meetings, such as city council meetings. Additional details about SCE’s outreach efforts are available in Appendix H of the Proponent’s Environmental Assessment, available at www.sce.com/coolwaterlugo.
As part of the environmental review of the project, the CPUC and BLM will conduct their own outreach and notification separate from SCE. The CPUC and BLM will hold 4 joint scoping meetings this August to seek public input on the project.
SCE actively solicited public input prior to submitting its application to the CPUC. Community workshops were held in November 2011 and March 2012. Public open houses were held in June 2013.
There will be additional opportunities for public input during the CPUC and BLM’s regulatory review of SCE’s application.
Regulation of transmission line projects, distribution lines, substations, or other electric facilities constructed by SCE are subject to the CPUC’s jurisdiction. SCE was required by CPUC rules to consult with local governments in the planning of the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project; however, ultimate authority to regulate construction of electric facilities including review and approval of transmission projects, lies with the CPUC. Responsibility to review and approve transmission line projects on federal land lie with the relevant federal agency, which in the case of Coolwater-Lugo is the BLM.