Snowmass: Bury the power lines |

Snowmass: Bury the power lines

Barring a sudden change of plans, the Snowmass Village Town Council will officially vote next week to install underground power lines up the Brush Creek Valley.

Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester said the council will recommend to Pitkin County commissioners that residents of Snowmass Village, Owl Creek and Brush Creek pay the added cost that comes with burying the power lines. A meeting to announce the decision is scheduled for next Monday.

Pitkin County has the final say in the matter, but the commissioners hinted last month they will support the council’s vote.

While Manchester said he and other council members have wanted to put the lines underground from the beginning, the final vote next week will end months of deliberation over the potential project and its costs.

The plan was originally submitted by Holy Cross Energy to address the increased demand for energy in the Roaring Fork Valley and Snowmass Village. A maxed-out substation in Aspen means new power lines are needed in the Brush Creek Valley.

Manchester said the public has also overwhelming requested the lines be built underground.

If the lines were built above ground, the project would be considerably less expensive, but towers close to 100 feet high would have to be erected up the scenic Brush Creek Valley to support the lines.

Burying the lines will cost about $5 million more than building them above ground. Three payment options were being considered, and until the official vote, they are still options.

The first is to bill customers only in Snowmass Village. The second option, the Town Council’s choice, 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.

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