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Tucson Electric seeks comment on UA-area power line project

Tucson Electric seeks comment on UA-area power line project

Tucson residents can comment on Tucson Electric Power Co.’s proposal to build a high-voltage transmission line through the west-central part of the city at a virtual public meeting on Thursday.

By 2023, TEP plans to run a 138-kilovolt transmission line — suspended by 75- to 110-foot-tall poles — from a new substation at East 36th Street and South Kino Parkway to the DeMoss Petrie Generating Station, a gas-fired power plant just east of Interstate 10 north of West Grant Road.

Thursday’s public-comment open house, which follows a series of working group and public-comment sessions since 2019, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. via Zoom. To participate via Zoom, go to tep.com/kino-to-demoss-petrie for a link and passcode the day of the meeting. To listen via telephone, call 1-699-900-6833 or 1-253-215-8782 and use webinar I.D. 946596341118 and passcode 41655391.

TEP has proposed a preferred route for the line along the east side of the University of Arizona campus and north up North Campbell Avenue to reach a planned substation just north of Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, before zigzagging east and north to West Grant Road.

TEP says the power line and substation project is needed to boost power capacity, improve reliability and tie into the UA and Banner-UMC campuses to meet growing demand.

The plan has drawn opposition from residents of Sam Hughes and other historic neighborhoods along the route who say the transmission lines will destroy views and hurt their property values.

TEP’s preferred route along North Campbell would run along the edges of the Sam Hughes and Blenman Elm neighborhoods, and the route leading west from the planned Vine Substation on the UA campus would cut through the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The plan has also drawn fire from Tucson City Council members including Steve Kozachik.

In late May, a city zoning examiner denied TEP’s request for a special use permit for the Vine Substation (formerly known as the UA North Substation), citing a lack of information on how the route would fit in with area development plans and inviting TEP to refile with more information.

Meanwhile, Sam Hughes, Jefferson Park and about 10 other neighborhood associations have formed a group called the Underground Coalition, urging TEP to bury all or parts of the roughly seven-mile-long transmission line underground.

TEP says it didn’t plan to bury the lines because of the high cost of installing and repairing underground equipment, citing an underground installation cost of $11 million per mile, or 11 times the cost of overhead lines at $1 million a mile. A third-party analysis TEP released in February estimates the cost of undergrounding at 13.5 times the cost of overhead lines or $13.5 million per mile.

TEP says it plans to file an application for approval of the transmission line project with the Arizona Corporation Commission in late July.

The route for the new transmission line must be approved by the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee, which will be asked to issue a certificate of environmental compatibility that will later be considered for final approval by the Corporation Commission.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz


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