Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

May 13, 2014

Editorial: City needs analysis of power line costs

This is how it’s supposed to work.

Traverse City Light & Power Executive Director Tim Arends has suggested that a first step in an effort to replace a key west-side power line would be to design the line in its current location and use that as a baseline to compare the costs of other options.

“People have a hard time grasping what a $10 million cost means and they don’t realize how it will impact their (electric) rates,” Arends said.

“Will it be $5 or $10 a month for 10 years, or will the cost be insignificant?

“No one has ever done that calculation before,” he said.

That’s a revelation. While Light & Power has done an analysis of competing plans in the past, it would have been helpful to know the possible impact on rates before the city commission votes on a request to quash funding for the effort; that vote may have come Monday night.

Instead, the commission was to vote on whether to essentially duplicate an aging power line and support poles or, as Slabtown residents want it, bury the line or move it to run along M-72 and Grandview Parkway.

Slabtown residents want the transmission line, which links substations on Gray Road west of the city and on Hall Street, removed from Wayne Hill, Hickory Meadows and the Hickory Hills Ski Area.

The option to bury the line, particularly if it stays int its present location, would be the most attractive, in terms of getting rid of power poles at least, but no doubt the most expensive. If there is to be an impact on rates, that’s the option most likely to raise them.

As is too often the case here, however, instead of first doing an analysis of the cost of competing plans and working from that, we’ve skipped straight to a political debate.

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