Midway City, Rocky Mountain Power and Heber Light and Power have settled a dispute over the installation of high-power transmission lines. The settlement comes after years of public input, negotiations, and legal wrangling.
Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson breathed a sigh of relief when KPCW asked her about the power line dispute's outcome. The council approved the resolution after negotiations between the agencies and Midway's attorney. She says they've looked into installing the lines underground, but there are misconceptions about burying transmission lines' financial feasibility.
“Many of your listeners may know already Midway has been pushing back against this transmission line project that was due to come through our rural small town and we wanted bury it. The costs to bury it is staggering. That just simply wasn’t going to happen. Distribution is cheap to bury and transmission is expensive t bury and that’s one of the things that folks have had a hard time understanding the difference.”
Rocky Mountain Power claims they’ll have no other projects in Midway for the next 10 years.
“Rocky Mountain Power, Heber Light and Power have agreed that they will just do the single circuit line through Midway, that won't be a double circuit line. It will follow the existing route. It actually cleans up a lot of the old poles that are on that route. We will have fewer poles. Yes they will be taller but they won't but they'll be cleaner.”
The resolution includes an agreement by Rocky Mountain Power to give the city 18 months-notice on new projects. Utah requires power companies to give only 60 days' notice. Johnson says 18-months' notice gives Midway time to respond to future projects and raise funds to mitigate the community's impacts.
“So, getting 18 months gives us a little more control about what would happen in Midway moving forward. We've also got a commitment that they won't do anything on our North line which a lot of folks felt like oh great there's not going to do it here but they'll both move and do it there and they have committed that that will not happen. So, we feel like some very good things have come out of this. It's been a long and tedious process. We will tell you that I’ve given a quart of blood a week for the last two-and-a-half years. So, I'm very happy to finally reach a settlement.”
The resolution passed unanimously by the Midway City Council, and Rocky Mountain Power will begin work in 2021.