S’mass to push for underground power lines | AspenTimes.com
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S’mass to push for underground power lines

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

While an official vote won’t come until early August, members of the Snowmass Village Town Council said they will recommend that power lines be built underground in the Brush Creek Valley.

Furthermore, the council hinted that they will recommend to Pitkin County commissioners, who have the final say in the matter, that Holy Cross customers in Snowmass Village, Brush Creek and Owl Creek pay the surcharge that will be created by building the lines underground.

The unofficial decision ends months of deliberation among council members regarding a plan submitted by Holy Cross Energy. Increased demand for energy in the Roaring Fork Valley and Snowmass Village, coupled with a maxed-out substation in Aspen, means new power lines are needed in the Brush Creek Valley.

For months, the council remained undecided over whether they would vote to construct the power lines above or below ground.

Putting the lines underground is considerably more expensive. Building the lines above ground, however, could be unsightly – towers close to 100 feet high would be erected up Brush Creek to support the hefty lines. This stirred another debate over who would be forced to pay for the underground plan.

Burying the lines will cost about $5 million more than building them above ground. Three payment options are being considered. The first is to bill customers only in Snowmass Village. The second is to divide the surcharge among customers in Snowmass Village, Owl Creek and Brush Creek. The third is a hybrid, calling for customers in Snowmass Village, Owl Creek and Brush Creek to pay 80 percent of the surcharge, with customers in the Roaring Fork Valley between Aspen and Basalt picking up the remaining 20 percent.

While the council has said they will recommend the underground plan and hinted they will divide the surcharge among customers in Snowmass Village, Owl Creek and Brush Creek, the official vote won’t take place until Aug. 4.

A month ago, Holy Cross extended the deadline for the town to reach a decision until the end of July. With the vote not taking place until Aug. 4, Holy Cross extended the deadline again Monday. With a final decision coming soon, however, Holy Cross was happy to grant the extension.

“It’s been good,” said Bob Schultz, a Holy Cross representative. “They’re going to underground the lines, they just haven’t signed the papers yet.”

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com]


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