Delta County Electric System Improvements Imminent
by Watch Staff
Mar 26, 2010 | 2142 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTROSE – Construction will soon begin on a “much needed” 19-mile 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission line, according to a press release from the Delta County Transmission Improvement Project, a consortium of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., the Delta-Montrose Electric Association and the City of Delta released this week. “Our utilities have worked closely together for several years on this project designed to improve electric reliability for Delta County’s citizens and electric consumers,” said Fay Mathews, utilities director for the City of Delta. “The project is vitally important to the common good of thousands of residents now and in the future.”   

Completion of the project will “greatly reduce the risk” of an extended power outage in the area, according to the press release, which went on to explain that “currently, the sole source of electric power for the Garnet Mesa Substation comes in on a transmission line from the east. If that line goes down or fails, then the City of Delta and DMEA customers will likely experience an extended power outage due to the increasingly inadequate back-up supply of power. The Delta County Transmission Improvement Project will provide a badly needed additional transmission line to maintain the availability of power. “

After a string of incidents in 1999 nearly caused blackouts in the Delta area, Tri-State and DMEA worked closely with city officials to identify solutions to mitigate the potential of extended power outages.  The resulting electrical reliability improvement project comes on the heels of nearly a decade of the three entities’ working together.

Roughly one-half of the improvement project is sited on Bureau of Land Management; another one-third of the line is located on unincorporated county land and the remaining portion of the line is on private land within the city limits of Delta. 

“It’s been quite an involved process,” said Tri-State’s Joel Hendrickson, Senior Land Rights Specialist.  “We started looking at routes in 2002 and completed a routing study in 2004.  Public feedback and input was extremely important to us as we selected a final route.”

Since 2006, the three organizations have hosted several public meetings to gather public input regarding possible routes and listen to concerns.  Delta County commissioners approved the Special Development Application on Aug. 14, 2007, and the BLM granted the construction permit late last year.  

Nearly 13 miles of the 19-mile project will consist of new transmission line; the other six miles will be a rebuild of an existing line. Two new substations – at Starr Nelson and Doughspoon – will come online, and existing substations, Gunnison Valley and Garnet Mesa will be upgraded as well.   

“This is a vitally important project needed to maintain and increase the reliability of electric service to our communities,” said DMEA Engineering Manager Kent Davenport. “We are excited to get this project underway.” 

Construction activities related to the originally estimated $14 million improvement project will take place over the next two years. 

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