Glenwood wants Xcel to start over on power line plan |

Glenwood wants Xcel to start over on power line plan

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A local resident who blew the whistle on an Xcel Energy power line project that lacked proper city permitting, as well as City Council members, are concerned that the company may try to “bully” the city into accepting the plan under the threat of possible power outages.

Both Dean Moffat and his son, Nathan, as well as Michael Diehl, Public Service Company of Colorado’s supervisor of siting and land rights, appeared before City Council Thursday night to address the issue.

“I know Mr. Diehl and have worked with him, and I do have confidence that he will work with the city to come up with a solution,” Dean Moffat said.

“But, what I’m concerned about is the hierarchy of Xcel pushing the same design proposal through … or, that whatever temporary solution they come up with will become the permanent solution,” he said.

Moffat brought the issue to the city’s attention last week when Xcel/Public Service Company began work to upgrade the transmission lines into the north Glenwood power substation.

City planners determined the project should go through a special use review, and may also be subject to the city’s Hillside Preservation Overlay Zoning regulations.

Of particular concern is what was eventually to be a 100-foot tall, rust-colored switching tower that’s now half built on the hillside above the Yampah Hot Springs and Vapor Caves, as well as some smaller steel towers that would be part of the upgrade.

Diehl apologized to City Council members for what he said was an oversight in not lining up the proper permitting before proceeding with the project.

He said the company is conscious about the design and willing to work with the city through the public review process.

“What they have planned there is not a good option,” Nathan Moffat said. “Don’t accept any bullying from them … just because they didn’t go through the review process to start doesn’t excuse them from doing it now.”

Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen acknowledged that the situation is complicated by the fact the substation that is to be served by the new transmission line is now temporarily out of commission, leaving the city’s electric system operating at about two-thirds capacity.

The work was intended to be done prior to the winter heating season when demand for electricity will go back up. A temporary solution may be needed in order to turn the substation back on before that time.

“We do have concerns about the visual intrusiveness of the design,” Christensen said. “But I’m also concerned that we’re dealing with a very large corporation here, and I don’t want us to get into a ‘make us take it down’ situation.”

Diehl explained previously that the transmission line needs to be upgraded in anticipation of upping the voltage into the city’s power substation. The city had previously installed a new transformer to eventually increase from 69 kilovolts to 115 kilovolts.

The upgrade involved removal of the 15 old wooden power lines and structures that were formerly on the hillside, Diehl explained. They were to be replaced by five new steel and wood structures, including a shorter 61- to 75-foot steel pole, and the largest, a 100-foot tower intended to accommodate the switching equipment, he said.

“We would like to figure out a solution that will allow us to continue work with the temporary structures to switch that substation back on, while we come up with a permanent solution,” Diehl said.

For now, the poles have to stay in place because they’re cemented in, he said.

“If that pole is not part of the final solution, we will cut it off and haul it away,” Diehl said.

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