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 developers from building overhead power lines. However, thanks to the city council, the high-voltage transmission line will get an exception.
The electric company seeks to build a 138-kilovolt transmission line, with metal poles from 75 to 110 feet tall. It will run from a substation at South Kino Parkway and East 36th Street up Kino. Then, it will go 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 noted 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 doubt about what the high-voltage line will do to local real estate.
The Tucson Underground Coalition, a group of several dozen neighborhood associations, were advocating for building the line underground. But no, they may have to deal with this transmission line being way 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. After all, it wants to 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 a chance to win zoning approval. The next hurdle would involve getting specific exemptions through the public process.