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Cities join forces in power-line dispute
By Doug Snover

November 19, 2005

Kyrene Corridor residents and their representatives in Tempe and Chandler city halls are scrambling to find ways to persuade Salt River Project to bury a proposed 69-kilovolt power line that Tempe Councilwoman Pam Goronkin says is “a really threatening issue” to the area.

“I certainly don’t want to see them marching down McClintock Road,” Goronkin said of SRP’s proposal to erect new power poles between the Hanger substation near Guadalupe and Price roads and the Houston substation on McClintock just north of Ray Road.

There is no line connecting those two substations today.

Salt River Project says the new high-tension line is needed to cope with power demand that has risen 28 percent since 1998 and is expected to exceed existing capacity by summer 2007.

SRP hosted an open house on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Aprende Middle School in Chandler to review its proposals with Kyrene Corridor residents.

One Tempe official predicted the open house would be standing room only. Tempe and Chandler staff discussed the SRP plan in a conference call on Tuesday.

“We just compared notes,” said Jeff Kulaga, Tempe’s assistant city manager.

He said the first step for Tempe is to learn exactly where SRP proposes to build the new line. Then, Tempe will “drill down a little bit farther” to determine the actual costs of burying the proposed line, he said.

SRP has offered six possible routes for the new power line. Five of the six would require SRP to erect new wood or steel power poles along parts of McClintock south of Guadalupe Road in an area where there are no overhead lines today.

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.

Ironically, the money to bury those lines came from a special “aesthetics fund” set up by Salt River Project to help communities mitigate the impact of overhead wires.

SRP’s policy is to build new 69-kV power lines above ground unless communities fund the extra cost of burying them. Goronkin said SRP officials told her it could cost approximately $3 million per mile to bury the proposed lines.

SRP’s proposed routes range from 3.8 miles to about 4.3 miles, which means it could cost well over $10 million to bury the new lines.

The question is: Who will pay?

“We are in agreement with our residents that SRP needs to either put it underground or mitigate the impact some other way,” Chandler spokesman Jim Phipps said.

“They need to find a way to put that (power line) in an area that isn’t going to have a negative impact on any of our residents,” Phipps said. “One way is to underground it,” he said.

“The city (of Chandler) has no intention of spending money on something that SRP should do,” Phipps said. “It’s their impact.”

Phipps likened the cost of burying the power line to the Arizona Department of Transportation paying extra to mitigate noise when building new freeways.

“It’s the cost of doing business,” he said.

Goronkin said the cities had little advance warning of SRP’s plans and, therefore, “The costs are not in anyone’s budget at the municipal level.”

“One of the solutions might be that the cost to underground be shared,” she said. If Chandler residents are going to benefit from the power, they should pay part of the expense, she said.

Tri-city issue

SRP’s electricity “grid” does not follow city borders, so determining who will benefit from the proposed power line is difficult.

A map provided to the Wrangler News by SRP indicates that, although the power line would run through Tempe, much of the area to be served is in Chandler and even Mesa.

The Houston substation, at McClintock and Ray, is in Chandler at the Tempe border. Four feeder lines leaving the Houston substation serve Tempe and four serve customers in Chandler. The Hanger substation, at Price and Guadalupe, is in Mesa but also has four feeder lines going into Tempe.

“It’s mainly the Houston 69/12-kV distribution station that is the problem we are facing,” SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said.

“There are four 12-kV feeders going directly into the Tempe area and four stay in Chandler. The load in that general residential Tempe area being fed the Houston station has increased its usage by approximately 28-percent since 1998. Most of that increase is in existing homes,” he explained.

While much of the service area is in Chandler, “the areas on its ‘boundaries’ are no less served, or critical, to the overall performance of the system,” Harelson noted.

Regarding the overload problems we’ll see in 2007, there are other stations contributing to the project’s need along the 69-kV loop that have increases in demand too, but do not feed into the city of Tempe.

“They are the Austin, Airpark, Manor, Miller, Wafer and Wood stations. Collectively, the overload and low voltages will occur along the 69-kV line looping all those stations together.”

All six of the stations mentioned by Harelson are in Chandler or Mesa, according to SRP’s map.


SRP announces open house at Kyrene station

Salt River Project is inviting some of the neighbors to visit its Kyrene Generating Station at 7005 S. Kyrene Road in Tempe.

SRP mailed invitations to some Tempe-area residents announcing an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The open house includes plant tours every half hour.

The Kyrene Generating Station can be reached from Kyrene Road north of Grove Parkway. Follow the paved road across the railroad tracks and turn right past the guardhouse. Parking is to the left.

SRP suggests visitors wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes. In case of inclement weather, the open house will be rescheduled to Dec. 10.

For more information, call (602) 236-2164


































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