Metal monsters and bye-bye water |

Metal monsters and bye-bye water

Guest Columnist / Suzanne Gerhart

Western Area Power Authority has released its Environmental Impact Statement and is planning to go forward with the proposed 138-KV, 105-foot tall towers with multiple rows of transmission lines running from the Granby Farr Pumping Plant on Lake Granby to Windy Gap.The proposed overhead towers represent obsolete technology that will mar our beautiful mountains and valleys for the next 80-90 years. The idea of taking more water out of the county and erecting unsightly towers to do so at our expense is simply preposterous.This represents “takings” by the government (WAPA) from individuals and the Grand County community. We strongly resent WAPA’s tactic of pitting residents against each other with respect to alternatives in a community that has traditionally been very cohesive.Why do we need so much power and who benefits?WAPA has not demonstrated the need for significantly more power in the 600-plus page report. No data shows the projected growth of the county. Population nearly doubled from 1980 to 2010, but most of that was in the 1990s. Growth was under 20 percent in the last decade and the population actually declined from 2009 to 2010. The closure of Grand Lake Elementary reflects the trend. Section 1.9 of the EIS report states: Front Range water use – The purpose of the project is to maintain and improve electrical power reliability for this portion of Grand County. It would not affect nor be affected by existing or proposed water collection delivery projects that serve the Front Range.This statement is simply disingenuous. The destination of the power lines TO THE FARR PUMPING PLANT tells it all. Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake are already polluted with toxic algae; our rivers lack sufficient flow. Global climate change predicts a drier climate, leading to high fire danger. With eventual lower water tables whose well will go dry? What options are acceptable and who pays? The EIS claims that burying the lines or replacing the Adams Tunnel Cable would cost a great deal more than unsightly overhead lines, BUT the report fails to present any proposals or cost estimates by reputable engineering firms. Expert Harry Orton, Orton Consulting Engineers International Ltd., indicates underground lines are safer, preserve scenic beauty and cost nearly the same as overhead lines over the long term. WAPA estimates it would cost $200 million to bury the lines. Hence, it would cost East Slopers $5 per person per year to maintain Grand County’s scenic beauty. This calculation is based on a 40 year life expectancy serving one million.However, WAPA ADMITS they do not have the expertise necessary for underground installation or maintenance. The logical option then is to replace the Adams Tunnel Cable:• It already exists and has been a proven source for 65 years.• Trained personnel exist.• It provides a second source of looped power from Estes Park.• “Green Power” is generated.• Environmental issues are eliminated.• Beauty is maintained.• EMF exposure, noise, and electronic interference are eliminated.• The tourism industry provides a strong financial tax base.• Property values remain stable.• Pilots and birds are safer.The Adams Tunnel traverses 13.1 miles under the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain National Park. It is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Federal legislation enabling the project clearly placed the burden for building and maintaining the facilities on the project and its successors, namely, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Under those circumstances, shouldn’t the District bear the cost of replacing the Adams Tunnel Cable?The May 2012 issue of Colorado Country Life indicates our electric charge will increase 4.8 percent. Denver rates average $.04 per kilowatt hour in winter and $.08 in summer. Are we paying for power to send our water to the East Slope?Let WAPA know tall towers are not OK by the May 29 deadline. Write to:Jim HartmanNEPA Document ManagerWAPA Corporate Services Office12155 W. Alameda ParkwayLakewood, CO 80228Email: gppwgp@wapa.govCounty Commissioners (James Newberry, Nancy Stewart & Gary Bumgarner), state Representative (Randy Baumgardner) and state Senator (Jeanne Nicholson), U.S. Representative (Jared Polis) and U.S. Senators (Michael Bennett and Mark Udall). Suzanne GerhartGrand County Road 41