Public hearing to address Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal to upgrade transmission line
January 2, 2015
To increase capacity and enhance reliability for power customers in Summit County, Rocky Mountain Power is proposing to upgrade an existing power transmission line that runs between Coalville and Silver Creek.
The Eastern Summit County Planning Commission plans to hold a public hearing regarding Rocky Mountain Power’s conditional use permit request to upgrade the transmission line and replace approximately 300 poles at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Kamas city Office, 170 North Main Street, in Kamas.
"It’s all about bringing capacity into the valley, as well as enhancing reliability," Rocky Mountain Power Customer and Community Manager Steve Rush said. "If we have multiple feeds and because of weather, like we’ve had the last couple days such as high winds, it gives us the ability to bring power in from different directions.
"It’s like having two roads into the valley instead of one," he added.
The existing power transmission line runs from Evanston, Wyoming and connects with
substations in Croyden, Coalville, and Silver Creek, crossing approximately 200 properties throughout the county. The power line in the corridor dates back to the early 1900s, Rush said.
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Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal to upgrade the existing line would triple the power capacity and increase the voltage from 46 kilovolts to 138 kilovolts, requiring the installation of new power poles approximately 20 feet taller than the existing poles.
The upgraded poles would range in height from 70 feet to 120 feet tall and would be made of either wood or steel.
Summit County code requires a conditional use permit for transmission lines greater than 45 feet in height on the East side of the county.
"For the last couple of years, we have been working on bringing additional capacity to this line," Rush said. "We are getting closer to what our needs are for the customers and this will enhance that reliability."
The project is being proposed in two phases, according to a Summit County staff report addressing the conditional use permit request.
The first phase of the project would upgrade the line that extends from the Coalville City boundary to Browns Canyon Road, the report stated. The second phase would cover the areas from the Summit-Morgan County boundary to Coalville; and from Brown’s Canyon Road to the Silver Creek substation.
Rocky Mountain Power holds easements to allow for power transmission line upgrades through existing corridors, dating back almost a century.
At the first public hearing in November, a handful of residents and property owners voiced their disapproval of the proposal, going as far as to request the removal of already-existing poles.
"There is relatively small number of individuals that want us to move off of their property," Rush said. "But we already have an easement to be there and we are just exercising that right, which allows us to maintain or change conductors. From a legal standpoint, we believe we are totally within the framework to increase the capacity and change the poles."
The public hearing in November transitioned into a work session and prompted the need for an additional hearing, after the public comment and discussion between the commission and Rocky Mountain Power representatives.
"The planning commission felt it was prudent to allow Rocky Mountain Power to perfect those easements and work with property owners," Summit County Planner Sean Lewis said.
Generally, because these transmission lines are going in an established corridor, the county tends to look favorably upon their request, Lewis said, despite residents’ concerns.
"Those easements are a private matter between Rocky Mountain Power and the property owners," he said. "We don’t have any regulatory influence over those easements."
As a Summit County official, Lewis said he does not advocate for or against any particular project. Though, he said he understands the practicality of the upgrade in this day and age.
"Think of how many devices you have in your home," Lewis said. "When these lines were put in 50 or 100 years ago, we didn’t have cellphones or TVs. So from a practical stand point, it’s just updating the wiring to account for the increase of electrical devices to try and make life better."