Sierra Pacific gets OK for larger substation in Lyon

Sierra Pacific Power Co. received approval from the Lyon County Commission to tear down its 60,000-volt substation on Six Mile Canyon Road and build a larger, 120,000-volt unit on the same lot.

But they didn't get to use the same plan they originally asked for.

The utility asked the commissioners to approve the original special use permit that would allow them to expand the substation on its current site and include a 35-foot communication tower, increase the capacity of the substation from 60,000 volts to 120,000 volts, enclosed by a brick or block wall. It will connect to an existing 120v power line from the Fort Churchill Power Plant to the Steamboat substation.

Residents wanted the company to move the substation away from their homes.

Despite residents' opposition, the commission did not require the power company to move the substation.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve an option that requires Sierra Pacific to demolish the existing substation and construct a new facility on the same site, at a cost of $110,000. The company estimated an additional monthly cost to ratepayers from $4 to $29.94

Commissioner Phyllis Hunewill opposed that option.

The utility would also have to provide a cash payment for nearby homeowners to put toward landscaping to block the view of the substation. With about 16 homes in the area, Mark Sullivan, land use consultant for Sierra Pacific, estimated that would cost more than $48,000.

This option also requires Sierra Pacific to negotiate an easement agreement with owners Chris Peterson, Dwight Millard Jr. and Troy Scott for the adjacent parcel to the south for a road to the Mark Twain Park, or put such a road on their own property. The other three options would have cost ratepayers from $20 to $172 additionally a month.

Sullivan reminded the county that the station would cost $4 million to build, bringing the county additional tax revenue, and that Lyon County ratepayers could be held responsible for costs over the original request.

He also quoted a certified appraiser in the state, Robert Schiffmacher, saying the substation would have no bearing on property value.

Residents vehemently opposed the decision, despite Chairman Don Tibbals' attempt to explain.

"We're trying to save you at least $24 a month," he said.

Dave Lute of Dwight Way said he would rather pay more than have the larger substation across from his house.

Tibbals said he had been to the area and that Lute had a nice home, and he would feel the same way if he lived there.

"But you can't stand in the way of progress," Tibbals said. "I understand your concerns but we are trying to keep the rate base down."

Patricia Cooper quoted a Harvard University study that noted electromagnetic fields could cause cancer and other health problems.

"You keep talking about how much this is going to cost, but you have to take down the poles anyway," she said. "I don't want to come down with some funk because you want to go with the lowest cost alternative."

Cory Cooper said the vote proved to him that except for Hunewill, the elected officials "are not there for the people."

He said he would have to move, and sell his home at a loss now because his wife didn't want to live near the larger station.

"Sierra Pacific didn't do any of the stuff they said they were going to do," he said. "They just came in and used a scare tactic on how much it would cost."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


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