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TID alters planned site of new transmission line
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Yielding to concerns voiced by the City of Ceres and county residents, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors decided to move a planned 115 kV transmission line from Grayson Road to TID Lateral 2.5.
The decision to pursue a new path for the approximately 11 mile, $13 million project, came during an informational meeting held Tuesday morning. The proposed transmission line is intended to connect the existing Hughson substation to a new southwest Ceres substation for increased system reliability, and to provide sufficient power for projected Ceres growth.
The change in plans will result in a minimum six-month delay on the project, and will cost the District an additional $1.7 million. The new route may impact as many as six fewer homes, however, and five fewer parcels.
“I, myself, am not going to mitigate for the cheapest route possible,” said TID Board President and Division 4 Rob Santos. “But I am going to mitigate for the best route for the people.”
During a Nov. 17, 2009 meeting the TID presented a plan — and completed environmental impact report — to site the line along Grayson Road. City of Ceres representatives, including Vice Mayor Chris Vierra, objected to the route at that time due to Ceres’ plans to one day widen Grayson Road. That widening would have necessitated a costly repositioning of the high voltage lines, likely at the City of Ceres’ expense.
Farmers and homeowners located along the proposed route also took issue with the high voltage lines, which they said could affect land values, abilities to farm, and even the milk production of dairy cows. Such concerns are endemic to power line projects, according to Greg Tucker, TID Engineering & Operations Department manager-special projects.
“When you knock on a guy’s door and say I need 120 feet (of right of way) and I want to tear down your barn and knock down your garage, it doesn’t make you real happy,” Tucker said, referring to past experiences in building a 230 kV power network.
In efforts to allay the concerns of Ceres and other residents, Tucker conducted engineering estimates of alternate routes at the behest of the board, which he described as, “relatively high level, but detailed nonetheless.” Tucker presented five alternatives on Tuesday morning, examining the pros and cons of running the line down Lateral 2, Lateral 2.5, or Grayson Road.
Tucker’s analysis found that a route that traveled along the southern Lateral 2.5, then followed Union Pacific Railroad tracks north to meet the new substation would have the least impact upon locals. The route has its own problems, however, as TID does not fully own the land that Lateral 2.5 is sited on, nor has the railroad agreed to the placement of power poles near their tracks.
“We have easement for an irrigation canal, but we don’t have easement for anything else,” said TID General Manager Larry Weis.
Those who live along the new route will also likely have some concerns that TID may have to address, but those landowners were not notified for Tuesday’s informational meeting. Additional information sessions and a public hearing will be held before the plan is accepted.
Before settling on the Lateral 2.5 route, Tucker also stated that an alternate Grayson Road route had also been discussed with the City of Ceres, which would have sited the towers 60 feet from the existing road to allow for future widening. The City of Ceres did not support the potentially costly and legally difficult plan, which would require extensive use of eminent domain.
TID has yet to finalize the transmission project’s route east of Highway 99, which currently runs power poles along Faith Home Road en route to the Hughson Substation. Faith Home Road is also on county plans for future widening, and farmers have expressed concern about the project.
Weis stated that an information session on the eastern portion of the project will be held in the next month or two.
“I traveled the routes myself and it’s got to go somewhere,” Weis said. “… We’re really kind of in a tough spot.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.