Power Line Controversy

November 18, 2008 9:17:56 PM PST
Protesters lined Farmersville Boulevard waving signs that read "Just Say No." Demonstrators are trying to call attention to Southern California Edison's plan to build a high power transmission line from Lemon Cove to Visalia and right through the heart of Farmersville.Farmersville City Manager Rene Miller says "They said no parking lots, no trails. I'm just not sure what it will be underneath all those poles. It's going to be very difficult because this is the entryway to our community."

To emphasize their point, activists strung up orange balloons 120-feet in the air to show just how tall the power poles will stand. Many here say they support So-Cal Edison's project, they just don't want it built in their community.

Southern California Edison doesn't want anything underneath the power lines they want to put up and that means citrus trees a half-mile South of Highway 198 would have to be torn down.

That may mean thousands of citrus trees will have to be cut, and farmers say they can't afford to lose any land.

Citrus grower George McEwen says "For me, I'm cutting 20 acres cutting across me. That's about 4.5 acres of prime citrus ground that I'll lose. For other people, it's going to come across their wells."

The project would also put two 120-160 foot poles through Farmersville, upsetting many who say it will ruin chances of building a much-needed shopping center that would bring hundreds of jobs and increase tax revenue.

Eli Angeles, Junior class President at Farmersville High School, says "I'm out here because I want to make a change and I want to make a difference. My little sisters are going to grow up here and I'd rather have them have a regional shopping center than a power line that's not really going to benefit us."

Southern California Edison says running the line through Farmersville would cost less and have fewer environmental impacts than other locations.

A community meeting will be held tomorrow night at 6-pm at the Visalia Convention Center. People's comments will be forwarded to the state Public Utilities Commission, who will make the final decision on where the power lines will be built.

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