Mark Twain residents fight power substation, lines |

Mark Twain residents fight power substation, lines

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

A representative from Sierra Pacific Power Co. has said the strain of growth could cause future power outages in Carson City, Dayton and Virginia City if a substation and power line are not built in Storey County.

But about 50 residents of Mark Twain who attended a Storey County Planning Commission meeting last week, where the substation would be located, opposed the plan.

Mark Sullivan, a land-use consultant for the utility, said the station and several power lines were essential to prevent future outages.

“Power comes from Carson City at the Brunswick Station and goes to Virginia City and Silver Springs,” he said. “It comes from Tracy and feeds into Brunswick.”

The commission continued the issue until its June 21 meeting, when the power company is expected to bring in updated maps.

It turns out that one of the most vocal protesters isn’t even served by the utility. Resident Tom Zachry said the Sierra Pacific maps show the power lines going right over his house, and he isn’t a customer of the utility. Zachry has had solar power since about 1980.

“It seems kind of ironic that the only guy that doesn’t use their power, they’re going to put the transmission line over his house,” Zachry said.

But Sierra Pacific spokeswoman Fay Anderson said power lines would not go over his property and that the maps were the same and accurate.

“It’s not on his property,” she said. “We have agreements with all of the property owners from rights of way where the line is planned to be and we have no agreements with him.”

Zachry, who lives north of Sutro Springs Road on a private, dirt road, said he suspects the utility didn’t know he was there, and thought all the property belonged to Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

“They were going to come over the top of Rocky Peak and go to the west of here, and now they’re coming over the top of Tibble Peak,” he said. “But I’m going to wait until they come out with the new map,”

He wondered why the utility didn’t just bring the power line over Tibble Peak to Lyon County and build the substation there.

“Or better yet, they can stay on TRIC property and bring it down in the back by Sutro,” he said. “What they’re doing is getting the land as cheap as they can get it and putting it down there because they figure it would be the least resistant.”

The power increase is expected to serve 26,000 customers, Anderson said.

The utility would first build a substation north of Dayton in the proximity of two existing lines. This would provide a connection point for a 345,000-volt line from the Tracy Power Plant in northern Storey County to be built in the second phase, Anderson said. The line will run 100-120 feet above ground, about 20 miles through the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Anderson said the substation, a half mile north of Territorial Road, will be visible from some homes but added “it’s a long way from the houses.”

But those residents were in attendance at the meeting and said the photographs the utility had did not adequately show the view.

“Why does it have to be a quarter mile from where I live?” said resident Joanne Smith. “Why can’t you do it farther back into the hills where there isn’t anyone and we don’t have to look at it?”

Most residents were concerned about their property value and the possible noise and unsightliness of the power station.

Borda family Realtor John Gavin said Sierra Pacific was not accurate in their assertion that the family was willing sellers.

He said the Borda Family Limited Partnership had the property up for sale for $11,500 per acre, but Sierra Pacific only offered $4,000 per acre and then began eminent domain proceedings. The eminent domain order was filed March 29.

But Anderson said a letter from a Borda Family attorney dated Feb. 28, indicates the family’s willingness to sell the property for $7,500 per acre.

Gavin said the letter was written was because lawyers advised the family the power company was likely to prevail.

“The reality is, ultimately they filed an eminent domain lawsuit,” he said. “We came down $4,000 an acre, but they only want to pay $4,000 an acre.”

Anderson said negotiations are continuing.

Gavin said the family offered 628 acres on an alternate site about a mile west and closer to Six Mile Canyon Fire Department, but added Sierra Pacific rejected that as inconvenient.

“I just want them to be more realistic on the value they’re giving us for the property,” he said. “We don’t want to sell it now. Now isn’t a good time to sell. We can keep it and give it to our kids instead of taking $4,000 an acre for it.”

He added that neighboring property owners will see their property value go down if the family sells for $4,000 an acre.

Gavin said the power line and substation project might be a good project, but “no one wants those things in their backyard.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.