Neighbors organize power lines protest |

Neighbors organize power lines protest

by Nancy Hamlett

Sierra Pacific Power Co. may face fierce adversity to the new power substation planned for the Johnson Lane area unless the utility revamps a plan for adding new overhead power lines.

Residents from Saratoga Springs, a developed community in the northwest section of the area, are circulating petitions that object to the overhead lines.

“People typically buy in a homeowners’ association area to maintain property values, and overhead power lines are detrimental to the aesthetic beauty of this area,” said Terry Cupp, president of the Saratoga Springs homeowners association.

“As soon as residents saw the proposed map, they grabbed the pen out of my hand and signed. By the time we are through, I have no doubt that 100 percent of the property owners will sign.”

Based on one signature per lot, Cupp said that 70 percent have already signed.

“And we just started circulating the petitions. We aren’t necessarily against the new substation, but everyone objects to more overhead power lines,” he said.

“‘Aesthetic’ isn’t just an expensive word, it’s part of the quality of life that we keep talking about,” said Judy Kohz, a Saratoga Springs resident and supporter of the petition. “But let’s not just think about the residents’ concerns. We have events in this Valley that draw national and worldwide recognition, like the HITS horse show, ballooning and gliding. We have to protect out aesthetic beauty to protect our economy as well.”

Cupp is counting on the Douglas County master plan to support the homeowners’ association’s objections. He referred to several areas in the plan that require new utility lines to be placed underground.

“But we aren’t taking any chances,” said Cupp. “They (the Bureau of Land Management) wanted public input after the open house meeting on June 14, and we are giving it to them, as should anyone else who has concerns. We’ll also send copies of the petitions to Sierra Pacific Power, the planning commission and county commissioners. We want everyone to know where we stand right from the beginning.”

According to Mimi Moss, Douglas County planning and economic development manager, Sierra Pacific Power has not formally approached the county for special use permits or construction plans for the substation and power lines. She did say, however, that she and power company representatives are meeting today when the utility will be advised on how to proceed with the county.

“It’s much too early and premature for me to comment on the project as I haven’t seen it yet. However, Title 20 of the master plan requires any new utility lines to be underground,” said Moss.

Moss further stated that public hearings would be part of the Douglas County process.

“If overhead power lines remain part of the proposal, the public will have ample opportunity to voice their concerns,” said Moss.