Rethink, Reroute, or Bury High Voltage Power Lines in Heber Valley.
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We as citizens of the Heber Valley express our discontent with the proposed power Heber Light and Power and Rocky Mountain Power Jordanelle to Midway project. This project, without the proper input of the public nor proper explanation by elected officials, will bisect Utah's Heber Valley and install 85-115' high voltage lines through residential areas. We ask that this projected be paused, and evaluated, and then ask officials to Rethink, Reroute, or Bury these High Voltage Power Lines in Heber Valley.
Background: Heber Light & Power (HLP, a municipal power company) has entered into a contract with Rocky Mountain Power (RMP, a private for profit company) to allow the construction of a high-voltage power line to connect the new high-voltage line along Highway 40, through residential Heber City, across the Heber Valley to Midway, and through Midway neighborhoods to a Midway substation.
The plan, which maximizes the use of as many existing easements as possible and keeps all high-voltage lines above-ground and exposed to our community, is the cheapest plan possible for Rocky Mountain Power and therefore the most profitable. Heber Light & Power has made no effort whatsoever to force Rocky Mountain Power to adapt their line route to something that might be less financially attractive to them, but far more friendly to our community. Heber Light & Power has confirmed that the selected route was developed because it is relatively the most legally defensible.
Rocky Mountain Power is a for-profit company with a wide-ranging, monopolistic business operation buttressed by arcane eminent domain laws and a powerful political lobby. When this project, which was initially slated for location in Park City, was met with fierce opposition, Rocky Mountain Power quickly shifted course to take advantage of a weak and uninformed Heber Light and Power board; Midway’s former Mayor plead ignorance when confronted with this issue, in her own words claiming that “It took me four years just to understand what was going on in the power board”, during which time Rocky Mountain Power took full advantage of the power board’s naivete. The Rocky Mountain Power/Heber Light & Power contract for the project was never made public, and our community was insufficiently pro-actively informed of the dealings until a GRAMA request forced the disclosure of the contract, which was met with appeal by Rocky Mountain Power. The Rocky Mountain Power appeal was based in the idea that public disclosure of the contract would severely hurt the project’s profitability for Rocky Mountain Power.
This is an unnecessary project
According to Heber Light & Power, the single advantage of this project to the residents of our community is to create redundancies within the larger Wasatch mountain-area power grid. There are many other ways to envision this project, which do not extract a permanent toll on our community.
We are concerned for the beauty and character of our community
High voltage power lines will present a blight on our community. Dual High voltage lines are federally mandated to be 85-115 feet tall, twice as high as the existing infrastructure in our community. The Heber Light & Power/Rocky Mountain Power project claims poles will be 80-85 feet tall. We beleive this will not be the case. Such infrastructure is typically routed along highways or through remote areas, not neighborhoods, rural open spaces and residential areas. If allowed to proceed, this project will leave an irreversible blight in our community, and its placement directly through the middle of our valley, will be inescapable. It will forever change the character and beauty of our community.
We are concerned for our citizens
High voltage power presents a health hazard for residents along the power line. This project brings to our valley the maximum transmission possible. Alternative routing away from neighborhoods and residential areas will spare residents from the insidious long-term health effects of high voltage above-ground power lines. We also have concerns for property owners and the decreased property values a project of this scope would impose upon them.
There is a better way forward
Rocky Mountain Power must now secure easements, as spelled out in their contract with Heber Light & Power. Rocky Mountain Power has budgeted $10m to secure these easements from property owners along the line, and have until 2019 to do so before they give up on the project and take it elsewhere. Given the length and scope of the line, Rocky Mountain Power will have to place much pressure on property owners to meet this budget and timeline. Landowners will scarcely be compensated for giving up their rights, drastically diminishing their property values and those of their neighbors and community, and accepting the many downsides of high voltage power on their property and in their neighbors’ community. Property owners will have to bear the burden of easement research to prevent deception and fraud.
Nevertheless, the light was shined on this project in time for it to become a factor in the most recent Mayoral election. The incumbent leadership was roundly defeated in what was a referendum on the onerous Rocky Mountain Power project, and projects that will permanently change the character of our valley without citizen input or consideration to the future of our community.
Newly elected local leadership has shown a keen interest in this project and its considerable public opposition. The new leadership was elected on a platform of vision and careful planning to protect the character of our community, and are committed to exploring alternatives that do not sacrifice our community for external profit motives. The Rocky Mountain project is inconsistent with this vision and character. Nonetheless, Rocky Mountain Power with its extensive lobbying arm, will put immense pressure on local elected leaders to relent to this project.
Learn more, get involved, contribute: https://www.voltcitizens.org/
We ask that Rocky Mountain Power, Heber Light and Power, Wasatch County officials, Heber City officials, Midway officials, and Charleston officials: Rethink, Reroute, or Bury High these High Voltage Power Lines.
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