Rocky Mountain Power is considering an option to expand its electricity capabilities in Park City without having to increase the space where the substation off Bonanza Drive is situated.
It was an unexpected statement from Rocky Mountain Power after months of tense talks about the substation that centered on an apparent need for more space for an expanded substation.
In an interview, a Rocky Mountain Power official heavily involved in the discussions in Park City said there are talks underway with officials in Heber that could result in the company not needing some of the transmission-line upgrades previously discussed in Park City.
Steve Rush, the customer and community manager for Rocky Mountain Power, said a deal is possible with Heber leaders to rebuild 10 miles of transmission lines from the Jordanelle Reservoir to Midway.
If that occurs, he said, Rocky Mountain Power could expand the capacity of the existing lines into Park City. The power poles in Park City would not need to be replaced with taller ones, he said.
"We don't need any more footprint," Rush said, referring to the substation site on Munchkin Drive.
Rush said he anticipates a decision about the idea in Heber by the end of August. If an agreement is not reached, Rocky Mountain Power would return to its discussions in Park City, he said.
"It just is a different way for getting this done we didn't have available," he said.
Rocky Mountain Power says it needs to increase the capabilities of the substation by the fall of 2015 to meet a growing demand for electricity in Park City. The need spurred a lengthy discussion at City Hall about the future of the substation site and a divisive idea to shift the substation site from a Munchkin Drive site, located in a key spot in the Bonanza Park district, across Bonanza Drive to a location on lower Iron Horse Drive. It would have been accomplished via a land swap between Rocky Mountain Power and Mark J. Fischer, the lead developer in Bonanza Park.
Fischer argued that the project would be better designed if the substation did not occupy a high-profile location.
But people who live close to the lower Iron Horse Drive location where the substation would have been built were livid with the idea, saying they did not want a facility so close to their places.
The idea was scrapped in June amid the protests and more discussions were held about possibilities at the Munchkin Drive site. Later in the month, a different land swap was outlined that would allow the substation expansion within steps of where it is now located.
Fischer said on Monday the new idea from Rocky Mountain Power was not anticipated. He said as late as last week the second land swap idea was still being discussed.
"I feel surprised, never expected this outcome. However, in many ways, it's better for the community," Fischer said, adding, "Bonanza Park can go forward as envisioned . . . The overall vision will move forward."