Power lines in rural areas prompt protest | VailDaily.com

Power lines in rural areas prompt protest

Kathy Heicher
Kathy Heicher/Enterprise Power lines for new developments in Frost and Brush creeks have upset some residents.

EAGLE COUNTY – Call it the price of progress.What seems to be upsetting residents who own property on Brush and Gypsum creeks are plans for upgraded power lines to serve new homes at the Frost Creek golf course development and in the Brightwater Club. Local electric company Holy Cross Energy is determine whether it needs more electric lines and more cross-armed poles in the area. The new lines would likely cross private property in some places. Citizens are upset the lines will ruin views, and are worried about health and safety issues related to power lines.

“Why ruin open space all along the creek with power lines? If the developer is looking for increased power, why don’t they come up with a plan to bury it?” said Brush Creek resident Terri Gold. She learned about the upgrade project when she came across a Holy Cross Electric employee in her yard inventorying power poles.Last week, a group of about 15 Brush Creek property owners met with the county commissioners and Holy Cross Electric officials to discuss there concerns. Group spokesman Brad Helm said residents understand the need to extend power to Frost Creek. “Is proceeding with larger and more abundant power poles and lines up Brush Creek the way to do it?” he said. “We want to work together on a plan for power to deliver to Brush Creek that makes sense.”Holy Cross Electric General Manager Richard Brinkley said the company is investigating how to power the Frost Creek development. The company has an obligation, to serve the new development, he said. Bob Narracci, planning manager for the Eagle County Community Development Department, said there is no county regulation requiring that power lines be buried. But in recent years, the town of Eagle has required developers to bury power lines serving new subdivisions.

Brinkley said burying power lines is expensive. He estimated the cost of extending the power lines from the town of Eagle to Frost Creek to be about $800,000. The cost of burying the lines would run about $2.5 million.”It boils down to who pays the difference,” he said.County Engineer Helen Migchelbrink said she broached the subject of burying the power lines with Frost Creek developer Fred Kummer. She said he rejected that prospect as too expensive.One of the options the Brush Creek citizens are considering exploring is establishment of a special tax district to pay the cost of burying the lines.A similar situation is occurring in the Gypsum Creek Valley. A dozen property owners there have signed a petition objecting to a new electrical line to serve the Brightwater Club. Gypsum Creek property owner Corky Fitzsimmons says the upgrade took residents by surprise.

Fitzsimmons sad he’s particularly irked by the fact that the power lines within the Brightwater development will be buried; although the new electrical line up to that point will be above ground.”If the new development is going to have the lines buried, and people don’t want to look at it, why should we be forced to?” he asked.Holy Cross Electric officials did not return phone calls regarding the Gypsum Creek project.Vail, Colorado

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