DeMoss-Petrie Power Line Project Underground Coalition advocates undergrounding poles
2020 New Concerns for the Grant Road Corridor - 138Kv poles
Early in 2019 TEP began discussions with the community about transmission lines which were to be installed from the substation at Kino and 36th and the substation at Grant and I-10. By September 2020 after many TEP meetings neighborhoods began to push back against TEP's overhead 138Kv poles.
Who are the members/supporters of the Underground Coalition? Ten neighborhoods and three coalitions have signed their support to the undergrounding concept.
Coordinator of the Coalition: James Headfirstname.lastname@example.org If your neighborhood wishes to become a supporter of undergrounding the TEP polls, contact Coordinator James Head
Research Daniel Dempsey - email@example.com John Schwartz - firstname.lastname@example.org
What does the Underground Coalition propose?
"Overheading the TEP project will inflict tens of millions of dollars in reduced property values on homeowners and businesses along and nearby the route of the project. This represents a significant financial cost accompanying the TEP project. Such costs should be paid for either by TEP or by all its ratepaying customers; costs should not be borne by those individuals who are harmed. Therefore, TEP should (1) underground the project; (2) finance the cost itself or finance it via an ACC-approved rate increase (alternatively, TEP could bundle the cost into the next request it submits to the ACC for a general rate increase); and (3) to shield lower-income ratepayers, TEP should lift the rebate it grants lower-income ratepaying customers in its ongoing rebate program for such customers by the cost of the rate increase. According to sound outside estimates, the rate increase would be 15 cents per month or less per customer; based upon TEP’s current estimate, the rate increase would be about 50 cents per month per customer." (Primary authors of the statement are John Schwartz, Dan Dempsey, and James Head.)
Who are the Members of the ACC, Az Corporation Commission?
Mailing for all members: Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioners Wing 1200 W. Washington - 2nd Floor Phoenix, Arizona 85007 Members Lea Marquez Peterson: Phone 602-542-3625 Fax 602-542-3977 E-mail: email@example.com Boyd Dunn: Phone 602-542-3935 Fax 602-542-3977 E-mail Dunnfirstname.lastname@example.org
What does the City and Mayor and Council say? 11/4 CITY STUDY SESSION RESPONSE TO UNDERGROUNDING on U-tube. The November 4 Mayor and Council study session discussed the issue with TEP CEO, Sara Gray. To view the segment, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6bbD7xwauY. Go to time stop 4:19:58. The session raised questions from Jefferson Park which were addressed to Councilman Kozachik and Council Cunningham: After you view, see below Kozachik's answer to the questions:
Screen shot from 11/4 M/C Study session, shared by TEP CEO Sandra Grey
UNDERGROUNDING THE POLES – NEIGHBORHOOD QUESTIONS RESULTING FROM THE 11/4 STUDY SESSION JP addressed clarifying question to Steve Kozachik. His response: NOTE: The term “SELUP” means the special exception land use permit that TEP will be seeking for the UA substation.
Steve Kozachik <Steve.Kozachik@tucsonaz.gov> Sun 11/8/2020 7:59 PM I'll try to address those issues. The very short message is that the city's role is extremely limited by state law. Ultimately the ACC will decide on the route. My intent in bringing this forward was to force a more public conversation about undergrounding options. To date the utility has simply dismissed that as being unaffordable, unless the residents want to pay for it. That's not going to happen. A Utility District is not going to be formed. 1. Does the City have any power to "slow down" the process? As to slowing down the project, we don't have that authority. They can call off the public engagement whenever they want and proceed with the SELUP and the ACC siting committee. As with the undergrounding conversation, my intent was to let them know I believe wider conversations needs to happen, and hope to gather some M&C support for that. But we cannot block their progress to the commission if that's the route they choose to take. Yes, they will have to come to us for the special exception, but their plan is to do that simultaneously with going to the ACC with their route identified. I told them before the meeting that the timing appeared intended to truncate our voice, and that's why I brought the study session item as soon as I did. When we do the SELUP, I suppose we can vote it down, and that could be a way of slowing the process, but my sense is that they'd simply find a legislative solution which may hurt our ability to weigh in on any of these going forward. Again, my hope was to catalyze a deeper conversation, realizing that they hold the trump card. 3) Can/will the City put the issue of the rate increase to a M&C vote? We can pass a Resolution related to the rates, but the ACC decides. Our Reso would have no weight in law. 2) Can/will the City pass an ordinance/referendum like the one mentioned in the meeting that prohibits the overhead lines? I'm not sure if we have the authority to pass an ordinance prohibiting overhead lines, but if we did I can 100% assure you they'd simply go to the state legislature and get a bill passed that pre-empts local authority. I also don't think we'd find 4 votes on the M&C to adopt it - and I'm positive we wouldn't get that done before they get this in front of the ACC, if it was possible and legal at all. 4) Can/will the Mayor and Council have a vote on the issue of the Special Land Use Permit The SELUP will come to M&C b/c I'm going to ask for a public hearing after the Zoning Examiner hearing. Any 'party of record' can request a public hearing. Right now TEP is taking the position that we don't even have a voice. W/o that request for the public hearing, they'd be right. I intend on not letting it die in front of the ZE, though. b) If ACC ruled that TEP could become an underground utility, how might that happen? Your question about how TEP becomes an underground utility is exactly one of the points I've put in my newsletter for tomorrow (Monday.) If they lack that authority, then let's find the legal route to getting it to them. We can partner. But I don't think that's even true. I have the transcript from their earlier testimony before the ACC on this case and they addressed the possibility of undergrounding some distribution lines in order to reduce clutter. I did bring that up at a different part of the study session. If they can't underground, then why did Ed Beck make that statement in front of the ACC. Litigation comment: And they have not factored into their cost projections for undergrounding the cost for diminution of value litigation. That can become significant. And that will be spread among all ratepayers, so the council members who felt one part of town is subsidizing other parts of town to pay for undergounding simply aren't thinking about those litigation and settlement costs. Or maybe everyone just thinks they're a bluff. I don't know - but I know there are a lot of affected homeowners who are talking about a 10% drop in property value. Path forward? You already know about the mtg on the 16th. Take part and bring some pointed questions. If nothing else, the study session discussion brought into public some issues they have been able to contain in the zooms they've been hosting up until now. Stevek
Kozachik's 11/7 Newsletter article re undergrounding the lines: TEP will have to come to M&C for what’s called a Special Exception Land Use approval. That only relates to the substation located at Banner. And it only relates to that precise site, not any of the aesthetics of the proposed alignment that will terminate there. Last Wednesday I had a study session item in which I raised several points that I believe TEP needs to roll into their plans. I was pleased to have Cunningham’s strong support. I’ll summarize the points I made.
First, even TEP concedes there will be a drop in property values when their 100’+ tall poles go up near residences. They estimate about a 9% drop in value. At no time have they calculated that lost value, and litigation for recouping a diminution in value into their project costs. Here’s a real seat-of-the-pants low ball of what that might look like; 1,000 houses valued at $150,000, losing 10% of that value. That’s $15,000 x 1,000 = $15M. While testifying before the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) about this project in 2018, TEP said “we also realize that in order to get a project done, at times you do have to go with the more expensive option.” That more expensive option may be undergrounding some or all of this project.
While in front of that same Corporation Commission committee in 2018, TEP discussed undergrounding ‘distribution poles’ - those are the smaller ones that you already see around the City. Why would they do that? Because, as they testified, “the input we got from the public was ‘we don’t want any more lines.’ “ They’re hearing the same thing now. If there’s a compromise to be had, some level of undergrounding has already been identified by TEP as one possible conversation point that has not happened during the public meetings to any productive level.
As to the point I made about possible litigation over lost property value, TEP addressed that as well. During that 2018 ACC subcommittee meeting, one of the committee members said “it’s considerable that property owners would say that their remaining property has been made less valuable, and might want to claim damages due to the diminution in value, which are severance damages. That’s conceivable?” TEP responded, “Oh, absolutely, yes.” Ok, then let’s include those costs into the cost estimates for undergrounding and see if the impact they’re threatening on all ratepayers is real, or to what amount it’s reduced when all costs are factored in. Certainly, if there’s litigation, that cost will be spread among all ratepayers – just as the cost for undergrounding will be. And TEP told the ACC subcommittee that increase in cost will be “very small” because it’s absorbed “into our overall rate base.”
There has been no public discussion about how overgrounding the new lines might affect future streetcar routes. Also, TEP suggested that unless someone else paid for it, they cannot do undergrounding. If that’s the case, we need to slow down this whole process and address that in whatever legal way is needed. This is a unique project that will impact the City for decades. As planned it degrades the Kino Parkway corridor – the ‘Welcome Mat’ we invested millions of dollars into for people coming into town from the airport. And it will invite significant property value loss further upstream, which only means more costly litigation. --- I believe there’s much more of a conversation to be had than what we’ve heard to date.