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Chandler to Salt River Project:
A little more forethought, please
By Doug Snover

February 18, 2006

No more surprises, please.

That’s the gist of a Chandler proposal to work more closely with Salt River Project on the utility’s plans for expansion throughout the city.

On Feb. 9, the Chandler City Council directed its staff to work with Salt River project to change the way the utility goes about its business of siting new powerlines.

The Chandler staff report cites “the need for more direct city and neighborhood participation in the SRP power line planning process.”

Chandler and Tempe officials were caught off guard last year when SRP announced plans to string a new 69-kilovolt power line through the Kyrene Corridor to connect the Hanger substation at Guadalupe Road and the Loop 101 freeway with the Houston Substation on McClintock Road, north of Ray Road.

Linking these two substations will effectively tie together all of the substations in that portion of the SRP power system to help ensure reliability, utility officials say.

If city officials were caught off guard, residents were blindsided.

By the time SRP hosted the first public “open house” on the possible power line routes on Oct. 27, public opposition was growing quickly.

 “NO to SRP Powerlines on McClintock,” said signs that appeared briefly along McClintock Drive. The realistic orange boards had orange warning flags and flashing lights to add authenticity and a sense of urgency.

“I certainly don’t want to see them marching down McClintock Road,” Tempe Councilwoman Pam Goronkin said of SRP’s proposal to erect new power poles.

Goronkin said Tempe City Council members have received “dozens and dozens” of emails from residents opposed to putting new power poles in an area where the city has spent more than $3 million since the mid-1990s burying smaller power lines.

Salt River Project eventually selected a Loop 101-Ray Road route for the power line, and agreed with the two cities to use “aesthetics funds” provided by SRP to bury nearly a mile of the high-voltage line near residential areas along southbound Price Road on the west side of Loop 101 between Warner and Ray roads.

Chandler, however, does not want a repeat of the controversy.

Specifically, Chandler wants to see:

More comprehensive documentation of the costs and impacts of planned SRP power line upgrades

Earlier advance notice of planned improvements

Public meetings in a format more responsive to neighborhood concerns

Creation of neighborhood working groups to represent areas potentially affected by power line projects.

The Chandler City Council also is holding onto its threat to pass an ordinance “requiring future power lines to be placed underground,” according to the staff report.

Actually, talks between the city and utility had started several weeks before the Chandler Council’s Feb. 9 vote.

Chandler Public Works Director Bryan Patterson estimated the talks could last until the end of September.

The good news, meanwhile, is that Chandler officials have reviewed SRP’s five-year work program and found that “while there will be some substation improvements, pole replacements, and line upgrades, none of the planned projects will require installation of new 69-kV poles.”



































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