Over the last couple of months, I have been attending the line siting hearings for the proposed APS’ TS5 to TS9 500/230 KV Transmission Line through the Northwest Valley. I am concerned that this entire affair is tantamount to a “land grab” by APS, which taxpayers are paying for now and in the future, by way of taxes, legal proceedings and impending rate increases. I am also concerned about the appearance of collusion on the part of developers and the City of Peoria to place this line to the north along Scenic Highway 74. Furthermore, by siting this transmission line on Alternate Routes 2 or 3, the environmental and viewshed degradation would destroy some of the last scenic wonders of the Sonoran Upland Region near Wickenburg and Phoenix.
It is completely premature to be giving away our natural heritage to greedy self-interests, when there are better technologies already in place, such as high voltage UGC (underground cable), DG (distributed generation) and a major paradigm shift in energy production and distribution just on the horizon (reference: “Hydrogen Economy” by Jeremy Rifkin). 230-500 KV transmission lines are going underground all over the U.S., Europe and Japan (reference: Transmission & Distribution World, www.tdworld.com), for the very issues and concerns we are faced with in this case, those of environmental and viewshed degradation, public protest, condemnation proceedings, costly easements and rights of way, weather and other disasters, etc. Yet, it seems that the concerned parties in these hearings are presented only with the worse of several evils, none of which are in the best interest of our future, and none referring to the best available technologies.
During these lengthy hearings, attended by an army of lawyers and officials, it has been presented by expert witness testimony that (a) APS already has several utility corridors in place that can be utilized for sub-station linkage and future growth, (b) under the current financial circumstances in our nation, it will be many years before upgrades are needed, that (c) the issues of power grid “redundancy” for future disasters and outages are unfounded, and that (d) existing developments along the alternative routes will be severely impacted, as compared to the APS preferred route which would pass through relatively undeveloped lands to the south of SR74.
I would like to know how any of these proposed routes/utility corridors can be justified when hundreds of thousands of tax payers’ dollars are being spent on this siting process alone, not to mention the untold millions in State Land values to be essentially given away to the power company and the untold millions of dollars of existing home values along the proposed power line routes which would be affected. There are better ways to spend our tax dollars, there are many alternatives which haven’t been discussed, and most of the public have not been properly notified, by APS or the media, so that there can be a citizenry prepared to weigh the pro’s and con’s of this project. It is wrong to assume that a few peoples’ self-interests can prevail over the majority who would not have this project destroy our remaining ecological heritage.
The fact that APS itself does not prefer a line next to Scenic Highway 74, that the Arizona Bureau of Land Management and the State Lands Dept. have voiced opposition to it and that this scenic region comes under the protection of the “Auga Fria National Monument/Bradshaw-Harquahala Resource Management Plan and Final E.I.S.”, all should point the Line Siting Committee toward a resounding “NO” to this siting application. Our Sonoran Desert is under siege from the insane population growth of Phoenix, losing thousands of acres per month, and at some point we must say “NO” to special “development” interests.
On behalf of “Friends of the Sonoran Upland” and many other environmental organizations statewide, I strongly urge all citizens, local governments and organizations to formally protest against this proposed line siting. If the Committee should approve this project, we are prepared to utilize every possible legal avenue to prevent this transmission line from occurring near Scenic Highway 74; in which case, there will be many more public and private dollars spent on this case in the future.
Citizen action is urgently needed, and the final round of hearings are to take place on Monday, December 1st, near the Phoenix Airport, 1101 North Fourth Street (44th & the 202 Frwy), phone number for info is 602-273-7373. You can attend these Public Hearings or send protests and comments via e-mail or post to:
Arizona Corporation Commission
Consumer Services Section
1200 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ, 85007
And as an attachment to:
RE: Line Siting Hearings/ TS5 – TS9 Transmission Line Project/ Docket #138