Rocky Mountain Power, Heber Light and Power and Midway City have reached a settlement to install new above ground power lines in Midway. The resolution was presented to the public in last week’s council meeting.
Midway City Mayor Celeste Johnson says the option to bury the transmission lines is not feasible. She says the resolution they’ve come up with will serve the power needs for the community 30 to 40 years in the future and will satisfy Rocky Mountain Power’s need to loop into the substation in Midway. Rocky Mountain Power planned to begin the project in 2021.
“I would like to make it very, very clear that this line is going to come through. We have already agreed to a CUP that allows that to happen and we simply were trying to buy time to put the issue on the ballot for bonding so that we could have the funds to bury it or to give the private sector enough time to raise the money. Neither of those things happened."
The city submitted an appeal to the Utility Facilities Review Board earlier this year. Johnson says regardless of the outcome of the appeal, nothing changes, and the new lines will be installed.
“That appeal, even if we win on every single count of our appeal, all that gives us is an accurate number to bury [power lines] that we have to pay for. So the misconception is that if we win the appeal somehow Rocky Mountain Power doesn't get to come through our Valley. Or if we win the appeal they will have to pay to bury. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Johnson says the city considered bonding to pay for the burial of the transmission lines.
“They just felt there were far too many unknowns. It was still far too unclear and there was also a sentiment that if we're going to bond for something again at this magnitude of about $5million that the council would far prefer to see us boding for open space again.”
Johnson says the settlement agreement gives Midway more say on how the overhead lines are installed, where the poles will be, and the project will not cost the city anything.
“That line that will go overhead is a single circuit 138 KV line that Heber Light and Power is building. We have made no secret of the fact that once that's built it will be leased or sold or something to Rocky Mountain Power. It will be their line to complete their loop. But the fact that Heber Light and Power is building it means we're working with a company that we can work with. And we have some control over where the poles go and how big they will be and how many there will be. But it will basically go exactly where a current overhead transmission line is.”
She says it’s a dramatically better solution and is nearly the same as what is in place now except that it will have to be built to current specifications.
“Which means the poles will have to be taller and there will have to be steel poles when the line turns a corner, but nothing on the magnitude of what we thought it was going to be. Nothing as large as what’s on Hwy 40 right now in Heber and it costs us nothing."
Johnson says she is always open to hearing from citizen’s but last week’s meeting was the final public comment period.
“Good comments came out of that and there are a couple of things that we are looking to see if we can put in the settlement agreement. Some minor edits need to be made. There were enough the council was uncomfortable. This time the council said you know there's enough tweaks that we're putting in here and there's a couple of things we're still going to try to fight for. So bring it back one last time and let's make sure everything got put in there that we could possibly get, and then we'll approve it.”
Midway City Council will vote on the settlement at the next meeting on December 1.