Members of the Valley Opposition to Large Transmission lines, or VOLT, are busy working to raise $1.5 million to fund the burial of about a one mile stretch transmission lines that will go through Midway City, but the clock is ticking on that effort.
In December Midway’s City Council unanimously voted to approve the joint conditional use permit 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 including that the lines be buried. However, a stipulation in the approval requires that VOLT members raise $1.5 million by March 1st to help pay for the cost to bury the lines. If the money isn’t raised the transmission lines will go overhead. VOLT member Bengt Jonsson explains what the money is for.
“So, the million and a half is a front-loaded amount for the citizens to raise. The line is going to cost significantly more than this. Midway citizens, at the margin of 70%, had said we're OK with a surcharge or something to be added to our utility bill to make up the rest of the cost over a period of time. So the $1.5 million is a front load, let's get the principle down, effort. I think we can do it.”
Jonsson says that large donors have been assured their money will be returned should VOLT not reach the $1.5 million goal. although that might not be the case moving forward.
“As we move forward it becomes a little tricky, but the funds would go towards the burial movement and we want these lines buried. We can only swing at the pitches that we’re given. We as VOLT, we feel that we've been compelled, unbeknownst to us beforehand, to raise this $1.5 million. We’re going to swing at this ball, and we’re going to try. We're going to do the best we can to raise it.”
Ahead of passing the conditional use permit the city issued a professional randomized survey, the results from the survey showed that 70% of Midway residents would be willing to pay a surcharge to bury the line.
“We have been amazed. As the information has disseminated amongst the community how the community—even those that live on the opposite side of the town that don't live by these poles—how they've stepped up. I mean 70% of a city sponsored survey it's pretty remarkable. That's a great number of people.”
So far VOLT has raised $500,000 of the 1.5 million. Jonsson also noted they had launched a new website to help with the effort. We Love Midway .org