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Power line plan worries UA area residents

TEP says lines needed for reliable service
Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 13:42:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Power poles possibly up to 100 feet tall are part of Tucson Electric’s plan to offer more reliable service. But those poles are not welcome in some of the places where they could go.

With a fast growing region, demand for electricity is growing quickly. TEP has plans to satisfy that, but some neighborhoods are worried about the tall poles and wires that would be used to deliver that power.

To help meet demand from University of Arizona, Banner University Medical Center and Tucson in general, Tucson Electric wants to connect two power stations to the south and the northwest.

Power poles could be about 75 feet to almost 100 feet tall. An earlier version of this story said lines could go as high as almost 200 feet. TEP says 100 feet is the maximum expected height.

TEP is still deciding its preferred route for the lines. The company offers details of its plans and ways for the public to comment on the project's webpage.

Jefferson Park Neighborhood President Colleen Nichols thinks the new substation planned near Banner UMC means lines will likely pass through her neighborhood. She says Jefferson Park is on the National Register of Historic Districts.

She says, “We hope that the historical designation gives us some kind of leverage with the Arizona corporation commission the ACC who will make the final judgment on where these lines will be placed.”

Those commission hearings will probably happen early next year.

The lines could be buried, but TEP says that will cost eleven times the price of using poles.

Residents could agree to pay the extra cost. They say if that happens, big power users like University of Arizona should be big contributors.

TEP says it hears those neighborhood concerns.

Company spokesperson Joe Barrios says, “We're also concerned about the reliability of the service. And if we do nothing. Then there's circumstances there that could lead to flickering lights, or even power outages within the next few years, those are conditions that we're trying to avoid.”

Colleen Nichols agrees, TEP needs to upgrade its systems. She just wants some better options than running tall poles through her neighborhood.