Homeowners urge TEP to reconsider high-voltage power line project
TUCSON (KVOA) – Residents in several Tucson neighborhoods, including several historic ones, are urging Tucson Electric Power to reconsider or redesign a planned overhaul of the area’s power lines.
The project will add 138 kilovolt transmission lines from Kino substation to DeMoss-Petrie substation, which would require the installation of large poles in a dozen neighborhoods.
TEP has planned a few possible routes and will submit its final route proposal to state lawmakers for approval at the end of the month.
William Craig lives in Sam Hughes and doesn’t want to see the new power lines, which could reach 110 feet with a five foot base, in his neighborhood. He wants TEP to put the lines underground.
“Any place that has an 85 to 110 foot pole with a five foot base is not a place you want to live near,” Craig said. “It seems to me that they just want to do it their own way and their way. Is not good for this city.”
Ward 6 city council member Steve Kozachik said the TEP was ignoring a city ordinance.
“TEP chose what is called a walkway corridor,” Kozachik said. “We have an ordinance that says when installing new utilities in our gateways, you bury them.”
He says there has been a worrying trend of late, such as with the installation of 5G, for utilities and telecommunications companies to ignore local government regulations.
“They understood that we are the utility and therefore we can do whatever we want,” Kozachik said.
But TEP has said it hears and understands people’s concerns and has held the public input on this project since 2019.
TEP spokesman Joe Barrios said the biggest issue was cost.
“Overhead construction of a system like this would cost $ 1 million per mile, underground construction would cost 13 times that,” Barrios said.
The scope of the project could be around eight miles. Barrios said the increased cost of underground lines would be passed on to all of TEP’s customers.
“The problem is that all of our customers pay a significant price through their tariffs for an underground line that would benefit a relatively small number of customers in a specific area,” said Barrios.
TEP has a few roadblocks, a group of concerned residents have hired a lawyer, and Kozachik has said the city is ready to defend its order.