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Midway Approves Power Companies Transmission Permit With Conditions

Midway City

On Tuesday Midway’s City Council unanimously voted to approve the joint conditional use permit or CUP submitted by Rocky Mountain Power and Heber Light & Power to construct new transmission lines to carry power coming through the southern portion of Midway. The approval was conditional on a few items, the key one being that the lines be buried.

The motion came after a professional randomized phone survey was administered to 301 Midway Residents. 70.1% of those surveyed agreed that they wanted to see the transmission lines buried even at an extra cost to themselves and other Midway residents.

The motion to approve the CUP is four-and-a-half pages long with most of the information in the motion including conditions required to facilitate burying the lines.

Council member JC Simonsen read the motion to the council including the first condition of approval which rejects the previous estimated cost to bury the lines provided by Rocky Mountain Power.

“We do not accept the estimated costs provided by the applicant as sufficient information upon which to base funding decisions, Simonsen read. “Furthermore, we require the applicant to provide three actual competitive construction bids, prepared by qualified, bonded, and insured 3rd party entities.”

That previously provided estimate put the project in the range of four to six million dollars. The three new bids must be submitted to the city by mid-February. The motion stipulates the bids will also need to contain line items for additional items for the city to consider, such as dip poles, which transition the overhead lines to underground at each end of the project and continuing underground from Wards Lane to the Midway Substation which is technically outside of Midway City boundaries.

The city also stipulated the approval on a minimum donation of $1.5 million dollars from the organization known as Valley Opposition to Large Transmission Lines, or VOLT. VOLT is made up of landowners most impacted by the proposed lines and those who worry about the view shed and health impacts of overhead transmission lines.

“If VOLT is able to raise more than $1.5M and the underground project costs exceed $1.5M, the City is delighted to accept more help from VOLT,” Simonsen continued. “If the final cost of the construction is less than $1.5M, any excess donations will be retained by the donating entity (IE “VOLT”). It is up to VOLT to return the amount to the rightful owners.”

In a December 16th interview with KPCW Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson indicated VOLT had raised around $700,000 at that point.

Midway will also need to secure sufficient funds for the project, with financing needed beyond the VOLT donation to come from Heber Light & Power’s board in the form of a bond. The city and Heber Light & Power will work together to find the best mechanism to repay the bond, such as a per-meter charger, per kilowatt charge or some other way.

Finally, the city also needs approval from the Wasatch County to make a change in the plan for construction of the portion of the line within the county jurisdiction to allow for dip poles.

“As guidance for this process, at this time the Council envisions a location near the Fish Hatchery, but we are open to discussion of the best alternatives that will achieve our goals of mitigating visual impacts near to our entry corridor.” The motion read.

The motion does allow for Rocky Mountain Power to build the lines overhead instead of underground starting on March 1st of 2020 should the city be unable to secure all of the three following items. Those being the minimum $1.5 million donation from VOLT, sufficient funding to make up the difference in cost beyond VOLT’s donation, and an approval by the Wasatch County Council for a mutually agreeable location of dip poles.

You can find a link to the full motion here.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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