Midway's Dispute With Rocky Mountain Power Continues In Appeals Court

Jul 13, 2020

Credit Midway City

Midway and Rocky Mountain Power’s dispute regarding the timing and cost of a power project that will cover about a mile of the city is now being reviewed by an appellate court.

Rocky Mountain Power will be constructing new transmission lines to carry power through the southern portion of Midway to the Midway Substation connecting to the Jordanelle Dam Substation. The project has been approved but the question of whether the power lines go high overhead or are buried underground is yet to be answered.

 

Midway has expressed interest in having the lines buried, understanding that the city would pay the difference in cost of burying the lines vs placing them overhead. Mayor Celeste Johnson explains the dispute. 

 

“Rocky Mountain Power is saying ‘fine you can bury the line, you just have to pay for it,’” Johnson said. “We’re saying ‘okay, fine, give us a price.’ To come back with something that's between five and twenty million is clearly not acceptable for a municipality. We’re not in a position to say ‘yeah, OK, we’ll pay whatever it costs.’ We believe it is much closer to five million and that’s a number that our citizens can handle." 

 

The company also says the project needs to be completed immediately, leaving Midway little time to collect the necessary funds. A governor-appointed review board ruled in favor of Rocky Mountain Power but now an appellate court has placed a stay on that ruling.

 

Rocky Mountain Power received three bids on the project, but Johnson says the city objects to the structure of the bids after hearing from an expert hired to review them. 

 

“What they were putting in their estimate were things that they have never done before. The type of line (was) very expensive,” she said. “Very Rolls Royce and all we need is a Chevy, you know? Then there were also several errors that made it so that the distance varied from one bid to another.” 

 

Johnson says the expert they hired had just completed a similar project in Jackson, Wyoming. She says they also received independent estimates from other companies. Johnson says taking the case through the appellate court could delay the project one to two years, but they hope to work out an agreement with Rocky Mountain Power in the meantime. 

 

“Even our experts said ‘yeah this project does need to happen, and it probably should have happened maybe five-seven years ago,’” Johnson said. “So we know there's an urgency here, but because there's an urgency on Rocky Mountain Powers part—in our opinion, doesn’t necessitate giving up our right and giving up our voice to solve their dilemma. We can't be a dripping pen for Rocky Mountain Power. We need a firm price. A price that they will hold to, and a price that we can go back to our citizens and say okay in the survey you all said you’d be willing to pay this amount. Here it is, and it won’t be more than this and that’s what we’re looking for.” 

 

Johnson says there could even be enough time for the question of Midway citizens’ willingness to pay for the burial of the lines to be on November’s ballot. 

 

Midway and Rocky Mountain Power’s dispute regarding the timing and cost of a power project that will cover about a mile of the city is now being reviewed by an appellate court.

 

Rocky Mountain Power will be constructing new transmission lines to carry power through the southern portion of Midway to the Midway Substation connecting to the Jordanelle Dam Substation. The project has been approved but the question of whether the power lines go high overhead or are buried underground is yet to be answered.

 

Midway has expressed interest in having the lines buried, understanding that the city would pay the difference in cost of burying the lines vs placing them overhead. Mayor Celeste Johnson explains the dispute. 

 

“Rocky Mountain Power is saying ‘fine you can bury the line, you just have to pay for it,’” Johnson said. “We’re saying ‘okay, fine, give us a price.’ To come back with something that's between five and twenty million is clearly not acceptable for a municipality. We’re not in a position to say ‘yeah, OK, we’ll pay whatever it costs.’ We believe it is much closer to five million and that’s a number that our citizens can handle." 

 

The company also says the project needs to be completed immediately, leaving Midway little time to collect the necessary funds. A governor-appointed review board ruled in favor of Rocky Mountain Power but now an appellate court has placed a stay on that ruling.

 

Rocky Mountain Power received three bids on the project, but Johnson says the city objects to the structure of the bids after hearing from an expert hired to review them. 

 

“What they were putting in their estimate were things that they have never done before. The type of line (was) very expensive,” she said. “Very Rolls Royce and all we need is a Chevy, you know? Then there were also several errors that made it so that the distance varied from one bid to another.” 

 

Johnson says the expert they hired had just completed a similar project in Jackson, Wyoming. She says they also received independent estimates from other companies. Johnson says taking the case through the appellate court could delay the project one to two years, but they hope to work out an agreement with Rocky Mountain Power in the meantime. 

 

“Even our experts said ‘yeah this project does need to happen, and it probably should have happened maybe five-seven years ago,’” Johnson said. “So we know there's an urgency here, but because there's an urgency on Rocky Mountain Powers part—in our opinion, doesn’t necessitate giving up our right and giving up our voice to solve their dilemma. We can't be a dripping pen for Rocky Mountain Power. We need a firm price. A price that they will hold to, and a price that we can go back to our citizens and say okay in the survey you all said you’d be willing to pay this amount. Here it is, and it won’t be more than this and that’s what we’re looking for.” 

 

Johnson says there could even be enough time for the question of Midway citizens’ willingness to pay for the burial of the lines to be on November’s ballot.