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Johnson lane substation could be ready by summer

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Sierra Pacific Power officials are predicting a new $7.5 million substation east of the Johnson Lane area should be in service next summer.

Douglas County leaders granted a zoning map change designating the 2.5 acre site for public facilities Thursday. Sierra Pacific spokesman Karl Walquist said the company needs final approval from the Bureau of Land Management but expects the project to stay on schedule.

The substation is to be built a half-mile east of the intersection of Stephanie Way and Romero Drive. The facility won’t be visible from adjacent residential areas, though lines from it will be.

Some residents objected to the project. Greg Garmong said the BLM should do a full environmental analysis, while Jan Heaton said the facility could be placed elsewhere. But the county commissioners noted the power company made good-faith efforts to involve residents.

“They came before the county. That’s something they didn’t have to do,” said Commissioner Steve Weissinger.

“This appears to be a decision made for the best interests of the customers that are being served,” said Commissioner Don Miner.

The county planning commission previously granted a special use permit and recommended approval of the zoning change for the facility but refused to waive a requirement for burying new power lines along Stephanie Way.

The decision won’t affect the existing power lines along Stephanie Way. The county can’t force existing lines to be buried, but it can require any new lines to be underground.

Sierra Pacific plans to build several lines from the substation, including one that will link with an existing line on Heybourne Road and help deliver power to south Carson City.

Power company officials previously said the new substation is needed to meet demands of the Johnson Lane and south Carson City areas. Existing facilities have been stretched, leaving customers vulnerable to brownouts and other problems during peak demand times.