Sierra Pacific substation goes before planners

Sierra Pacific Power Co. takes plans for a north Carson City substation back before the planning commission today.

The commission postponed a decision on the 120 kilovolt electric substation planned for the corner of Emerson Drive and Mark Way in October to give the utility time to examine a second site.

The Emerson and Mark site drew a host of complaints from nearby residents. The Community Development Department recommended the commission deny the power company's application, instead recommending a site on east of Emerson Drive north of College Parkway.

The alternate site is about 6.2 acres, versus 1.4 acres at Emerson and Mark, which will create fewer problems on the neighborhood, Senior Planner Juan Guzman said.

"The second site shows less impact to the surrounding area than the first site," Guzman said. "It's ideal because there's nothing around other than commercial land uses, a church and the freeway to the north. It's a more responsible site for the surrounding area."

Guzman said the first site was out of range of city utility services, which also prompted the negative recommendation for the first site.

While Sierra Pacific is willing to construct at the alternate site, Substation Project Engineer Jim Lehan said the power company still prefers the first site because it is closer to existing transmission lines. He said the alternate site will up the substation's $2.6 million price tag by $500,000.

An 840-foot line will have to be constructed to connect the existing lines to the substation, plus the land is more expensive at the second site, Lehan said.

"We're confident that we'll get approval on one of the sites," he said. "We're doing the best job we can to get the substation with the least impact to the community."

The substation will serve about 6,000 customers. Sierra Pacific has argued that the four electric substations serving Carson City aren't sufficient and and a fifth station is necessary to alleviate the overload on the other stations and improve its electric system reliability.

Lehan said the substation will be required by June 15 to keep up with demand.

Sierra Pacific wrangled with city officials and residents for more than seven months over a proposal to build a substation at 1200 Arrowhead Drive before scrapping its plans.

Residents near both the Arrowhead and Emerson sites said it would devalue their property, create a visual obstruction and could create health hazards. Residents also argued the substation belongs in an industrial and not a residential area.

The alternate site has drawn only one official complaint.


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