A Rancho Mirage man says Southern California Edison is playing favorites. The utility is ordering him to clear shrubs around a transformer in his front yard but neighbors right next door with even worse vegetation are not being asked to change a thing.
"We met with the inspector. He could not answer why these requirements were in place, but just that we had to adhere to them," said Rancho Mirage resident Leo Lopez.
While Lopez says it sounded fishy from the beginning, he removed the shrubs from his front yard anyway, concerned about the safety of SCE's technicians. The utility company came back to Lopez's home and told him he needed to remove a tree near the transformer.
"At that point we complained to them, explaining that there is no consistency in their inspection cycle," said Lopez.
Based on the bushes covering transformers on other properties in his neighborhood, it appeared as though Lopez had a point, and he wasn't the only one who took notice. One homeowner was initially told to move a huge rock from near a transformer ...
"I just didn't move it. And they allowed it," said Rancho Mirage resident Mel Holtzman.
"It's upsetting to us that we had to be singled out, at least we feel like were singled out, when there is a community right next door that has at least 20, if not more transformers with the same problem. Vegetation, boulders," said Lopez.
Southern California Edison said it did not have a representative available to do an interview, but the utility did release the following statement: "Since maintenance inspections coincide with the date SCE's equipment was installed, customer clearance and request notifications can and do vary."
But to people like Leo Lopez, a fire fighter approaching retirement and a person whose profession makes minimizing risk a priority, if the clearance requirement is in fact for safety purposes, he questions Socal Edison's resolve.
"It just doesn't feel like if that were really the reason, they should allow any of the transformers to be covered by any vegetation," said Lopez.
72920 Park View Drive
Palm Desert, California 92260
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