Nephi resident wants further discussion of Zephyr power transmission project
By Myrna Trauntvein
A Nephi resident would like there to be a town hall meeting held where residents could discuss the proposed Zephyr power transmission project in a meeting with officials from DATC (Duke-American Transmission Company).
An open house was held in Nephi on April 16, to take public comment on the proposed Zephyr Power Transmission Project, was not adequate, said Michael P. Morgan, a resident of Nephi and landowner in Juab County.
The line is not due for construction until 2017.
Morgan said the open house format was not to the advantage of property owners. He presented commissioners with a letter of requests and with a booklet he had prepared for them to study and consider.
"I would encourage you soon to write and invite some of the Zephyr leadership to return to Nephi for an open town hall meeting in order for the citizens of our county to come together and go over with these representatives concerns regarding this proposed transmission line," he said.
He said the open house meeting was more of a "divide-and-conquer" approach rather than a forum for us all to come together and hear each other's questions and concerns."
He was not certain, he said, if the commission had, individually or as a group, taken a position on the proposed project. Morgan said he was seeking the support and leadership of the commission on the issue.
"We do not need a fifth transmission line," said Morgan.
The Zephyr Power Transmission Project is a proposed transmission line to connect the Pathfinder Renewable Wind Project, a wind development project in eastern Wyoming, with communities in the southwestern U. S. with most users located in southern California.
Prior to the town hall meeting he was proposing, he said, Juab County commissioners could also invite representatives of Zephyr to spend an hour or so touring the proposed routes which would help indicate the potential impact the transmission lines might have on the area.
"This could give them a better visual look at what we are currently facing with these power lines and what another line could cause," said Morgan.
Chad Winn, commission chairman, said that he; Byron Woodland, commissioner; and Glenn Greenhalgh, county planning director; had already met with officials from BLM, DATC, and others touring everywhere the power lines might be located.
"We have a concentration of lines coming down Salt Creek Canyon," said Winn. "Millard County has a problem with transmission lines as well."
He said the problem had been the topic of discussion at Six County AOG meetings.
"We are trying to find the best route for our county," said Winn. "I don't know if we can stop it but we can identify areas where there would be the least impact."
However, Morgan said he thought the county could, at least, ask that the transmission line be put underground.
That would, of course, make the line much more costly to build, he said.
He was concerned about the effect the power transmission lines would have on the economic viability of the properties located under the lines. Dead zones would be created, he said.
"The value of the land will be diminished," he said.
In addition, deeds of the type required by DATC from property owners were considered a sale. Even IRS recognized them as such, said Morgan.
"I would encourage you to, at least, support in writing my opposition to the 'Major Route Alternative--Preliminary' route through good grazing and farm ground that could go along our west hills where we already have four power lines running north and south," Morgan said.
The proposed power transmission project will have a 3,000-megawatt capacity which is enough to power 1.4 million homes and the 500-kilovolt high-voltage direct current transmission line will include converter stations at each end point.
"The proposed Zephyr project may not be a 'gentle breeze from the west' to our communities but a possibly economic, environmental, health and sore eye view shed hurricane from the east coming down Salt Creek Canyon, cutting west between Nephi and Mona and then heading west through Dog Valley," he said.
"I have spent my professional career financing almost all kinds of real estate," said Morgan.
One thing he had learned was that the lease/payment were more than offset by lower land values and the loss of potential future development.
Those lower property values meant lower tax revenue, and economic development was curtailed.
"As a citizen and a landowner, I am opposed to the economic dead zones for current and future development this pass-through power transmission lines have on our communities for generations," said Morgan.
Byron Woodland, commissioner, said that he did share some of the same concerns that Morgan had expressed.
"My question," said Rick Carlton, commissioner, "is have you contacted any of the landowners?"
He had not but he had received comments from others after he put a paid article in the newspaper last week.
One landowner present, to hear the presentation of Morgan, was Jim McWilliams.
McWilliams, when asked, said that four of the transmission lines were either now, or were proposed, for his property west of Nephi in Juab County.
He already had some of the "dead" property on his land but was still hoping for a subdivision and was planning some "solar stuff" for his property which is located across from the dairy west of Nephi.
Morgan asked that his booklet and his letter of recommendations he had presented to the commission could become a matter of record.
Pat Ingram, county clerk/auditor, said that would be done.
Winn said that commissioners are concerned and will continue to study the problem.
He said there were not only electric transmission lines in the corridor of Salt Creek but there were other utilities as well.