Big Park Council’s comment letter objects to the above-ground option for a number of reasons, including conflicts with Coconino National Forest’s management plan for the area, which includes preservation of scenic vistas and iconic red rock formations that attract millions of visitors to the area every year. The letter cites numerous other concerns including increased wildfire risks posed by a new powerline, potential negative impact to property values, and ignoring a federal directive to consider climate change when modifying the Forest Service’s local management plan. According to APS, the 69kV powerline is needed for backup in the event of power outages.
“We appreciate the Forest Service’s efforts in seeking extensive public feedback on this proposal, which has the potential of significantly blocking scenic view corridors in and around the Village of Oak Creek,” Cox said. “However, our surveys and forums have reflected strong community opposition to a new above-ground powerline, which would require installation of approximately 250 “self-weathering” 65-foot steel poles, spaced roughly 88-yards apart.”
Additionally, the Draft EA (Environmental Assessment) confirmed Big Park Council’s own consultant’s estimates that the long-term maintenance cost of the overhead powerline is far greater than a buried powerline – an expense that would be passed along to rate-payers, Cox said.
Consistent with a position statement approved by the Big Park Council last year, BPRCC also supports a feasibility study of a solar-powered community microgrid as another option, which would increase energy resilience, result in significant cost-savings for local residents’ electric bills over the long-term, and alleviate the need for any new powerline construction.
The Draft EA, which details project alternatives and discloses potential effects of the alternatives, is available for review and public comment at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56977
. Based on the EA analysis, the Coconino National Forest Supervisor will decide whether to allow implementation of one of the two alternatives studied, a blend of the two, or deny a permit.
How to Comment
Individuals who wish to comment may email the Coconino National Forest’s Flagstaff office at firstname.lastname@example.org
or send a letter to its office at 1824 S. Thompson St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001. Deadline is Jan 14th, 2022.