After much deliberation on the part of the Tucson City Council, it’s been agreed upon that the high-voltage transmission line can be built. There’s plenty of exceptions made for utilities to create overhead power lines in gateway corridors and in scenic areas. The Uniform Development Code has had planning commissions approved and amended to it.
This regulation stops overhead power lines from being made but thanks to City Council, the exception to the rule has been made, in consideration to the high-voltage transmission line.
The electric company seeks to build a 138-kilovolt transmission line, with metal poles from 75 to 110 feet tall. All from a substation at South Kino Parkway and East 36th Street up Kino and then towards a new substation next to the Banner University Medical Center. It’s all to really benefit the Tucson citizens entirely.
Regarding the city’s undergrounding requirements, the zoning administrator had noticed since last summer that the Kino transmission line has to follow the city’s undergrounding rules. Of course, the proposed route all along North Campbell is a gateway corridor.
Not long after a series of appeals, councilmembers had directed city staffmembers to explore an exception process for the undergrounding code. It would apply to any future utility transmission lines, as well as the Kino project.
There is a little hesitance about what it’ll do to the local real estate.
The Tucson Underground Coalition, a group of several dozen neighborhood associations in affected areas from the line were in advocacy of it to be built underground. But no, they may be having to deal with this transmission line being built way high above the importance of property values and through an invasion of historic neighborhoods.
The new line is in need of increasing capacity and reliability through growing demand in order to best serve the University of Arizona.
U of A has agreed actually to totally siphon 100% of the renewable power from the utility. It’s certainly less expensive than the cost (ten times more, in fact) of the overhead line to be laid underground.
Mayor Regina Romero had this to say: “On one hand, our growing city has a need for increased grid capacity and reliability. This could not be more evident as we strive to electrify our transportation system … we want to remove ourselves from fossil fuels and use much more electricity, which is perceived to be a cleaner energy source. On the other hand, we collectively struggle with aesthetics and the aesthetics of having large transmission lines in our neighborhoods is something we do not want to see throughout our beautiful city.”
The transmission line has received a chance to win zoning approval but the next hurdle would involve getting specific exemptions through the public process.