Second power line proposal for south Columbia could affect fewer residents

City continues looking for best strategy to make connections in southwest
Monday, September 12, 2011 | 7:25 p.m. CDT; updated 8:48 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 12, 2011

COLUMBIA — More than 1,000 residents are set to receive letters from the city this week about a plan that could place new power lines near their homes.

This is the second plan the Columbia Water and Light Department has developed to address increased electricity demands in south Columbia.

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For more information about options for large power lines in southwest Columbia, visit this page on the city of Columbia's website.

The plan affects fewer residents and uses more existing power line paths than the option proposed last year, but likely isn't as long-term a fix as the original proposal, said department spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz.

"Option A is a stronger system that does a better job in terms of reliability," she said.

Kacprowicz added that it's hard to estimate how long a particular power line route will meet the area's power needs.

After the department released its first plan — Option A — the City Council directed it to come up with an alternative that would use more existing power line paths. This would allow the department to add many of the new power lines in areas that already have existing lines.

"We'd have to acquire new right of way to get to the new substation that we're building, the way the plan is drawn, but we'd minimize that as much as possible," said transmission and planning engineer Adam Schuttler.

The new power lines would add connections between electric substations, including the proposed Mill Creek substation near Nifong Boulevard and Providence Road. Although both options call for some 161-kilovolt lines, the second includes more 69-kilovolt lines. Option B also uses more existing power line paths.

Nearly 3,200 residents live within 150 feet of the first option's path; hundreds came to a forum about the plan last October. Many said they worried about health risks and property values.

Kacprowicz said she anticipates a similar turnout at the forum to discuss Option B, scheduled later this month.

The department will decide which of the plans to recommend to the City Council, which will then decide whether it wants to move forward with a larger public hearing on the issue.

“(The council) can either tweak Option A or tweak Option B or just go forward with one of those options,” Kacprowicz said.

The meeting to discuss Option B will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 28 at Gentry Middle School.

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