Power substations are not ideal neighbors, but they are an increasingly necessary fact of life. Deciding where to locate one in a community is a lot like trying to decide where to put the utility room in a new house: You don't really want to give up the space, but can't live without it. Therefore, it must be out of sight, but central, and as tiny as possible, but with easy access for repairs and room for new appliances in the future.
So, it is understandable that the decision about whether to expand Park City's substation on Munchkin Drive or move it to a new site along lower Iron Horse Drive is an emotional one.
In addition to safety concerns, the Fireside and Iron Horse condominium owners close to the proposed new site are worried about compromising their views and property values. At the same time, the city and a private developer who hopes to begin a much-anticipated new mixed-use project see the existing site as a major obstacle to their plans to revamp as much as 99 acres of unsightly and underutilized property.
The arguments on both sides have merit, which means this decision, which must be made by the end of June, will not be easy for the Park City Council. And if anyone has a better idea, their input would be most welcome.
But after months of study and with a looming deadline, it seems to have come down to picking the lesser of two evils. Unless, of course, Parkites are willing to limit their voracious appetite for power of the electrical kind.
According to the Park City engineer, Rocky Mountain Power estimates that local power needs will overtake the current substation's capacity by the fall of 2015. In order to bolster output and in anticipation of future needs, the utility company hopes to acquire about two acres, which is considerably larger than the current .83-acre site. The company is quick to point out, though, that the expanded substation's actual footprint won't take up the entire site.
There is no bad guy in this equation. The need for a new substation is being generated by everyone's increasingly electricity-dependent lifestyle. That includes computers, bigger homes, smarter phones and appliances, and even by the potential for more electric cars.
The best solution will require creativity, compromise and clear-headed discussions. To help that process along, Park City Municipal has scheduled an open house on June 11 (time to be determined) and a public hearing on June 20. Comments may also be emailed to the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org