Mark Twain power line, substation rejected
June 22, 2007
Sierra Pacific Power Co. lost the first round in its fight to put a power line and electric substation in Mark Twain.
The Storey County Planning Commission got a standing ovation from more than 50 Mark Twain residents when it voted unanimously Thursday against the utility’s request for a permit to construct a substation just north of the Storey-Lyon county line.
“There’s no way to deny the need for the power,” said Planning Commissioner Austin Osborne. “The problem here is not the project. The problem is Sierra Pacific has done nothing for this community to mitigate the power problems.”
He said the county was negligent in ignoring power problems that have faced Mark Twain residents for years.
The Planning Commission only recommends action to the county commissioners, who will make the final decision. County manager Pat Whitten said the issue would likely be before the county commissioners on Aug. 7.
Mark Sullivan, a consultant for the utility, said the company would probably now hold discussions with the planning department and county commissioners ” to find out what the proper course of action is.”
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The company wants the substation because it would provide a connection point for a 345,000-volt line from the Tracy Power Plant in northern Storey County. The connecting line will run 100-120 feet above ground, about 20 miles through the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.
The power increase is expected to serve 26,000 customers.
Property values topped the list of concerns residents had about the substation. Other concerns were noise, health and damage to the view.
“I just put my property on the market for sale and I had no idea these people were going to put this substation in my back yard,” said resident Darlene Crossman. “What do we need to do to get you guys to move it back?”
Sullivan said the site was chosen because of topography.
Resident Steve Masticott said the utility should put it on a different section near BLM land, but just wanted to avoid paying for an environmental impact statement.
He said the housing market here would take a $50 million hit.
Taryn Gardner, who lives near the site, said she spoke with three appraisers and was told that the power line would cause a 30 percent drop in property values, depending on where the substation is.
“If this is going to happen, we need compensation from Sierra Pacific,” she said. “We are going to have to be compensated for all the property value loss.”
Sherry Hayden, who owns a 40-acre parcel that the line would cross, said Sierra Pacific officials threatened to take her to court when she rejected their offer to run a line over part of her property.
“This company is not an honorable company,” she said. “I’m actually going to lose something here beside my view.”
But Fay Anderson, spokesman for Sierra Pacific, said it was an aerial easement that the company wanted and that unless Hayden was planning to build a seven-story building, she wouldn’t lose anything.
Anderson said letters were sent to the property owners impacted and were willing to negotiate. “Court is the last resort,” she said.
On noise and health, Sullivan said the health risks were minimal and the noise from the substation would be 65 decibels, or he said about the sound of a shower.
But resident Tom Zachry said 90 decibels, or the sound of a .22 rifle, was enough to cause hearing damage, adding that 65 decibels would be louder than a shower.
Zachry pointed out that the company’s application said the substation would be located the farthest distance from Highway 50 developments.
“That’s Lyon County,” he said. “Why don’t you put it in Lyon County? Isn’t it enough their uncontrollable growth has crowded our highways and is draining the valley of water.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.