United with their white and red t-shirts, opponents of the substation made themselves visible and heard at Tuesday's board meeting. Chip Ashley with "Save the Foothills Coalition" was the first to speak. "I have in my hand here 799 signatures that we collected over the weekend at the Clovis Big Hat Days in opposition to this."
The clash is about building a massive transmission substation either in Watts Valley, Northeast of Clovis, or along Pittman Hill Road. But both would eclipse the very thing many say they moved here for... the view. "My concerns are the environment, the aesthetics, I didn't move up there to look at the towers," said Chuck Colbert.
Jay Hinshaw said, "We are concerned about the loss of property values."
PG&E's government relations manager, Al Galvez said the Valley is growing fast and will need more transmission lines by 2013. "Generation is not the answer we have to be able to transport that generation as it's being made either here locally or somewhere else."
But opponents say greed is the real motivation-- they claim transmitting electricity is more profitable than generating it. PG&E denies that saying the substation would create jobs in the Valley and clean energy to power 2.4 million homes.
But those in red and white say what they fear the most are the serious health concerns with living so close to the power lines, and the electromagnetic fields, or EMF'S, they create. Dr. Kathryn Biancindo said, "Many agencies already have declared EMF as a class two carcinogenic which means that regular exposure to it will cause cancer eventually."
PG&E will present its report to the California Public Utilities Commission next February and if its application is approved the project could be completed by the end of 2013.