Substation a go |

Substation a go

Amanda Hammon

After a year and a half search for a utility substation site, Sierra Pacific Power Company finally found a home for a North Carson City substation.

The Carson City Regional Planning Commission approved Monday the substation east of Emerson Drive, north of College Parkway.

The substation, which takes power from nearby 120,000 volt power lines, reduces the voltage and transmits it to customers, will serve about 6,000 people in an area that includes Silver Oak, Kmart and a large industrial area.

The substation will include 52-foot poles linking the substation to the line, which is one of the main power lines feeding Carson City, 840-feet away. Eventually, an 85-foot power pole will be built to extend the lines over the freeway.

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.

“This is very critically needed to meet next year’s electrical flow peak,” Substation Project Engineer Jim Lehan said.

He said Carson’s last substation was the Overland Station, built around 30 years ago. Lehan said other substations would be needed in the next three to five years to keep pace with growth in South Carson.

Planning commissioners were critical of Sierra Pacific’s lack of planning for substations.

“You need to plan for the future and place transmission lines and substations where there is growth,” Commissioner Roger Sedway said. “We need to sit down and look at what the projected utility demands will be.”

Sierra Pacific officials said they are committed to advanced planning. Community Development Director Walt Sullivan told commissioners he planned on asking for $25,000 during the city’s capital improvement process for a utility corridor master plan that would help the city and utilities plan better for the future.

Residents spoke sparingly against the site.

“This project, no matter how well designed, erodes the residential atmosphere,” said Randy Kearns, who lives west of the site. “It will have an effect on my property value.”

Resident Vaughn Smith had no problem with the substation at the site, but asked that it be maintained properly.

“I would like to suggest they pay a lot more attention to maintenance than they have around town,” Smith said. “The (substation) down on Long Street looks like a junk yard.”

Discussion on the Emerson Drive and Mark Way site was withdrawn due to numerous neighborhood complaints. That site was preferred by Sierra Pacific officials because of its proximity to existing transmission lines.

“I’ll admit this is a tough thing to do in a residential area,” Lehan said. “We’re glad we could find an alternate pleasing to staff and homeowners.”

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 their plans.

Residents near both the Arrowhead and Emerson drives sites opposed the substation because they claimed it would devalue their property, create a visual obstruction and could create health hazards.