Second transmission line is not a done deal guest opinions mtexpress.com electricity in the 1920s

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Kiki, while I applaud your research and information that you provided, having designed powerlines for 34 years, I feel I have a bit of additional information for you. First and foremost the question is not if they will build a second line but when.

The old line is past its life expectancy, by nearly 20 years (typical wood pole line per RUS Standards is 40 years). It is not only rebuilding the line, but upgrading the current carrying capacity of the line, because I am also sure that it is nearing present capacity. To rebuild the existing line is going to require multiple outages, opening access roads or install temporary lines as ‘work-arounds’ (there is also helicopter construction and ‘hot’ or energized lines work too). Given the severe topography, would be cost prohibitive (and hazardous). So the second line now provides two functions: added capacity for future growth and the means to backfeed the line to reduce the outage times. And the IPCo proposal states that once the second line is installed, they will upgrade the existing line.

Your comments on the double circuits being to close together…. it is a standard practice in line design … you could use steel poles, they don’t burn. In case you haven’t noticed IPCo upgraded the transmission line into the wood river substation (King-Wood River Line) this past year ,… all the wood poles were replaced with steel, and the current carrying capacity was increased with more efficient conductors. And then you brought up the Atlanta Airport double circuit outage …. those were underground cables that burned!!

As for paying for the lines … the ratepayers pay for all upgrades and new construction as a part of standard maintenance and operations throughout the IPCo system. When a new line goes in, normally it is overhead, as it is the cheapest construction method. When a town requests that they put it underground … the difference in cost is paid by the town’s ratepayers, not the entire ratepayer base. I know this because when I helped IPCo with the design rebuild and upgrade of the distribution line from the Hailey Substation to East Fork Road for the new hospital, Tim Hutchinson, then mayor of Ketchum, made a comment. To paraphrase ‘If IPCo thinks they are going to do anything with the lines in Ketchum and not put them back underground ….’. I sent the article to IPCO and was told that it was paid by the peoples of Ketchum (if they have a fund created by construction by developers, etc … it can help offset some of those costs too).

Finally the microgrid comment. Thanks for the article, I had to look that one up. My quick take is that it is more just a back-up system. The hospital already has that in place. I seriously doubt that IPCo is going to put that in place for the north valley. I just read an article for Apple’s new Data Center Plant in North Carolina. They are going to install a solar farm to provide the majority of their power needs ….. 20 megawatts (that is a third of the estimated need for Ketchum/Sun Valley) will require a 100 acre parcel of land!! And wind, unless the turbines are placed on the mountain tops is really not an option either.

While I appreciate your reluctance for a second line …. again, it is not if the line is needed it is when. Unless of course you want to stop any further building in the north valley. I would be happy to answer any questions or reply to any comments that you might have.