6. Alternative 5: Sierra Pelona Re-Route
Alternative 5 was initially developed to completely circumvent ANF lands between Antelope Substation and Pardee Substation. This alternative was developed to respond to USFS and Forest Plan direction of denying a special use application if a reasonable alternative can be developed off Forest Service lands. A goal in selecting an alignment for Alternative 5 was to substantially avoid the Forest, as well as minimize disruptions to existing land uses by routing the corridor across open land to the extent feasible.
Four major development projects (Ritter Ranch, City Ranch, Joshua Ranch, and Palmdale 1000), which are currently planned or are under construction, severely limit the ability to establish a new overhead line between the Antelope and Pardee Substations. Because of this goal, approximately 0.5 miles of line was routed onto lands in the ANF to avoid affecting residential homes in Leona Valley. Two additional ANF land properties located outside the USFS congressional boundary would also be crossed (1.0 miles) in Soledad Canyon (Mile 17.1 to Mile 17.4 and Mile 17.7 to Mile 18.4).
As shown in Figure B.4-13 in the Final EIR/EIS, this alternative would provide for a completely overhead 500-kV transmission line, routed south from Antelope Substation to the Pardee Substation via the existing Pardee-Vincent corridor. The overhead 500 kV transmission line would head south from the Antelope Substation for approximately 3.4 miles, over the California Aqueduct and the Portal Ridge mountain range. The transmission line would then veer southwest for 1.6 miles, and then south again for 0.6 miles. At this point, Alternative 5 would enter the ANF and continue south for approximately 0.5 miles, exiting the ANF. The route would continue southeast for approximately 2.3 miles, and then head in a southerly direction for the next 8.2 miles, traversing the western-most portion of the Ritter Ranch Specific Plan area, the Agua Dulce area, and crossing the Sierra Highway. At approximately Mile 16.6, the transmission line would head southeast for 1.4 miles, and then travel south for another 0.8 miles. This portion of the alignment would cross the Antelope Valley Freeway as well as two properties owned and managed by the Forest (1.0 mile on ANF lands - Mile 17.1 to 17.4 and Mile 17.7 to18.4). At this point (Alternative 5, Mile 18.8), south of the Antelope Valley Freeway, the transmission line would enter the existing Pardee-Vincent corridor and head west for 13.1 miles, replacing the existing northernmost single-circuit 500 kV towers within the corridor with new double-circuit 500 kV towers. The transmission line would join the proposed project route at Alternative 5, Mile 31.9 (proposed Project Mile 20.3). The new double-circuit 500 kV towers would continue to replace the existing Pardee-Vincent single-circuit 500 kV towers between Mile 31.9 and Mile 33.9 (same as proposed Project Mile 20.3 to Mile 22.3 as shown in Figure B.2-11 in the Final EIR/EIS). Between Mile 33.9 and Mile 37.2, the new double-circuit 500-kV towers would be placed in the vacant position within the existing Pardee-Vincent corridor and the existing single-circuit 500-kV towers would be removed (same as proposed Project Mile 22.3 to Mile 25.6 as shown in Figure B.2-12 in the Final EIR/EIS). A total of approximately 73 single-circuit 500-kV towers would be removed from the Pardee-Vincent corridor.
The total length of Alternative 5 is approximately 37.2 miles, of which 18.8 miles would be in new ROW, where 1.5 miles would traverse ANF lands. This alternative is 11.6 miles (45 percent) longer than the proposed project. Improvements or expansion of Antelope and Pardee Substations would be required to connect the transmission line to these substations. These improvements would be similar to the proposed project.
For Alternative 5, the USFS would authorize the construction, use, and maintenance of long-term transmission line infrastructure totaling 1.5 miles long (includes the crossing of the ANF lands in the Soledad Canyon area), with a 160-foot-wide ROW, on ANF lands through a 50-year-term Special Use easement. Any ground disturbing activities during construction on ANF lands and outside the proposed 160-foot-wide ROW would be authorized by one or more temporary Special Use Permits. Additional resource studies would be necessary to authorize the temporary Special Use Permit for work outside the proposed 160-foot-wide ROW (e.g., secondary marshalling yards, pulling and splicing set up sites, helicopter staging areas).
In addition, this alternative would require several amendments to the 2005 ANF Land Management Plan, including changing the Scenic Integrity Objectives along the proposed utility corridor (see Table A.5-3 in the Final EIR/EIS); and designating a 1,000-foot-wide utility corridor to follow the new Alternative 5 route on 1.5 miles of ANF lands (the towers would be placed on the edge of the relocated utility corridor). The existing Saugus-Del Sur utility corridor would be removed (12.9 miles) as a designated utility corridor in the Forest Plan.
A detailed discussion of the facilities needed to construct the proposed Project under Alternative 5 is set forth at pages B-104 to B-111 of the Final EIR/EIS.
B. Alternatives Presented in Response to the Draft EIR/EIS
In response to the Draft EIR/EIS, three of the parties commenting on that document proposed new alternatives. However, none of these proposed alternatives required further study, either because they were not considerably different from the other alternatives analyzed in the Draft EIR/EIS or because the proposed alternative would not lessen the overall significant environmental impacts of the proposed project, but, rather, would be likely to increase such environmental impacts.19 The Final EIR/EIS specifically explained, in responses to comments, why further study of these proposed alternatives was not required. Detailed findings on these proposed alternatives are set forth in Attachment B, CEQA Findings of Fact.
19 See, CEQA Guidelines, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Chapter 3, § 15088.5.