The Salt River Project’s proposed routes for power lines in Chandler are facing criticism and opposition again, but this time the City Council is getting involved.

Chandler and Salt River Project have reached an agreement that could end controversy surrounding proposed power lines.

The water and utility provider has been working for the past four years to find a route to get more electricity to the Price Road Corridor and its booming tech sector. 

The Chandler City Council planned to lawyer up and approved a resolution last week opposing SRP’s two proposed routes.

SRP and Chandler announced on Thursday that the two sides had reached an agreement that would nix a proposed route down Ellis Road that had residents in nearby neighborhoods upset.

Instead, SRP will pursue a route down Price Road and bury the lines.

“This shows that David can sometimes compete against Goliath,” Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said. “It’s nice that we can finally bring some closure to the city.” 

SRP President David Rousseau said in a written statement that the agreement is a collaborative effort to find resolution.

“Importantly, we can all now move forward with critical infrastructure to serve economic growth in the area,” he said.

The latest plan

SRP proposes to build the line along Loop 202 and then head south on Price Road. 

Portions of the route starting near the Drury Inn on Price Road and continuing nearly one mile to Willis Road would be underground. From there, it would be aboveground along the boundary with the Gila River Indian Reservation, SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said. 

SRP plans to bring the proposal to the Line Siting Committee in mid to late June.

As for alternative routes, Harelson said that SRP will submit the proposal “with this alternative only.” 

The entire cost for the project has yet to be determined as engineers will need to access the areas where the lines will be placed, Harelson said. 

The cost

It costs roughly $18 million to put one mile of 230kv power lines underground, SRP project manager Tom Novy said.

Chandler would pay the additional cost to bury the lines, including the cost to move other underground utilities already in the area, Chandler spokesman Matt Burdick said. 

The city is expected to contribute about $11.5 million, with the rest of the money coming from funds that SRP provides to cities where it is doing utility work.

Chandler only has $271,500 available of the $820,000 it received from SRP this year. However, the city is in the process of reallocating the funds and will also use future funds given to them by SRP to cover the project, Burdick said.

SRP believes that the existing funds Chandler has will likely be enough to cover the costs, Harelson said.  

Residents breathe easy

“I got goose bumps,” Christiana Schnettler said when she heard the news. Schnettler helped organize the opposition to the proposed Ellis route. 

“I’m excited that our neighbors can breathe easy,” Schnettler said.

The group of residents have come to call themselves the “Red Shirt Army” because of their color-coordinated approach to civil discourse, and the group is already considering the next battle. They want to push for legislation that would increase distance requirements for power lines near neighborhoods. 

“We don’t want anyone else to have to go through this,” Schnettler said. 


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