Planners OK Johnson Lane power substation |

Planners OK Johnson Lane power substation

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Sierra Pacific has Douglas County’s permission for a substation in the Johnson Lane area, but no new power lines will be allowed above Stephanie Way.

The Douglas County Planning Commission recommended a zone change for the project Tuesday and also approved a special use permit. But the board voted 4-2 to deny Sierra Pacific’s request to waive a requirement for burying new power lines along Stephanie Way.

Steven Rodolf, a land use consultant for Sierra Pacific, estimated the decision will add $600,000 to the cost of the $7.5 million project, but won’t alter the company’s plans.

Sierra Pacific is planning to build the substation east of Stephanie Way on 2.5 acres of Bureau of Land Management land. Rodolf said the station is crucial for meeting demands of the Johnson Lane and south Carson City areas, and the company hopes to have it running by next summer.

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.

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

The company hoped to add those lines to the existing overhead poles on Stephanie Way. Several residents objected, citing concerns that ranged from setting a precedent for exceptions to potential health risks posed by power lines.

The planning commissioners who voted against the request, Devere Dressler and Valida McMichael, had different reasons.

“It just didn’t make sense to put underground power lines next to overhead power lines,” said Dressler. “It should be all or nothing.”

McMichael said she had hoped to leave Sierra Pacific with other options.

The substation is to be built a half-mile east of the intersection of Stephanie Way and Romero Drive. Rodolf said the substation won’t be visible from the adjacent residential areas, though lines to and from it will be. There is already an overhead line running through the area.

The planners did grant Sierra Pacific’s request to waive the underground requirements for a line that will run along a two-mile span between the substation and Sunrise Pass Road. That line will be parallel to an existing set of lines.

The project still needs final approval from the Douglas County Commission and the Bureau of Land Management. The county commission has the final say on the zoning change allowing the station, while the BLM, which owns the land, is still completing environmental assessments.