Taller power poles approved for East Side
February 24, 2015
The Eastern Summit County Planning Commission has approved Rocky Mountain Power’s request to upgrade and replace power poles within a portion of the existing transmission line that runs between Coalville and Silver Creek.
On Thursday, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the utility company’s request to upgrade the line from the Croyden substation to what is identified as pole 13/1, which is just south of where the line breaks off toward the Coalville substation. Everything south of where the lines breaks, has not been approved.
The line, which dates back to 1916, originates in Evanston, Wyoming and connects with substations in Croyden, Coalville, and Silver Creek, crossing approximately 200 properties throughout the county.
To increase capacity and enhance reliability for power customers in Eastern Summit County, the utility company submitted a conditional use permit application in November to replace approximately 300 poles in what would be a multi-year project.
The upgrade consists of multiple phases, Summit County Planner Sean Lewis said. The first phase is for the portion of the line that extends from Croyden to the Coalville City boundary where the line diverts to the Coalville Substation, according to a County Courthouse staff report.
"Within that corridor, the majority of property owners have signed new easements, giving Rocky Mountain Power a definitive amount to work with," Lewis said.
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But within the corridor the utility company wants to upgrade, five property owners with land west of Hoytsville Road have refused to sign new easement agreements. The owners went as far as to request that the existing line be moved out of agriculture areas. The original easements Rocky Mountain Power holds for the line were negotiated nearly a century ago.
Officials with Rocky Mountain Power argue the existing easements establish the utility’s company right to the pole’s current locations. However, at the Planning Commission’s request, the utility company agreed to meet with the five land owners and discuss moving a portion of the line.
Ben Keyes, one of the property owners who didn’t sign the new easement agreement, said he and most of the landowners along Hoytsville road want the line moved up higher on the hill.
"The value of the property is a lot greater down there than up on the hill," Keyes said, adding his main concerns are for agriculture and any future developments.
Keyes said he "thinks it’s great" Rocky Mountain Power is willing to negotiate.
"I think they’ve pretty much said they are planning to move it once they have a consensus from all of the owners," Keyes said.
County staff revised the project’s phases to include an upgrade for a portion of the poles within the corridor so Rocky Mountain Power can move forward with the project while the owners that want the line moved negotiate with the utility company, Lewis said.
"It’s kind of a win-win for everyone," Lewis said. "The owners that wanted the line to be moved have a chance to go back to the bargaining table and get that moved. That way Rocky could move forward with that portion which would take about a year to complete."
According to Rocky Mountain Power, the upgrades 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 new poles would range in height from 70 to 120 feet and would be made of either wood or steel. Transmission lines exceeding 45 feet in height require a conditional use permit in Eastern Summit County.
Thursday night’s hearing was the fifth public hearing the Planning Commission has held regarding the transmission line upgrade as commissioners and residents have dug in their heels in the past months demanding more answers about the effects the new line will have on residents and livestock operations.
"This is why we have public hearings," Lewis said. "We get applications all the time for people who have an idea for what they want to do and this hearing process allows those projects to be vetted in a public forum. And sometimes projects need to be reworked.
"There are a lot of very educated, very smart people in our community and when they come to these hearings they provide comments that can be helpful," he added. "I see this as a reason why we have the processes set up the way we do."
The first phase of the project will take approximately one year to complete. In the interim, Rocky Mountain Power officials said the company will continue to work with the remaining property owners to secure new easements and negotiate moving the line.
The public will have additional opportunities to comment on the line’s new location, once it is determined.
"The company is very pleased that we are able to work through these issues and at this point be able to have some direction that we can move forward with," said Margaret Oler, Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson.
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