After the meeting on March 10 with APS, the No Power Poles Committee wrote this letter to APS.
The Walker Community would like to thank APS for taking the time to meet with us. The opportunity to have open dialogue and transparency with APS is appreciated and hope that it will continue in the future. The need for new power lines for the Walker Community and the redundancy they provide is appreciated. That being said, below are some concerns that will need to be addressed.
Concerns: The major concerns as expressed by the NO Poles Committee as the result of the meeting with APS on 10 March 2023 are as follows:
Fire along Walker Rd which is the only paved ingress/egress route for the Walker community.
- Previous fires in the area were hampered by fire equipment and evacuations accessing the same / only accessible roadway. A wildfire originating from the proposed power line would limit or prevent the evacuation of the entire community except by four wheel access. This remains as the major concern for the Community.
- APS has offered to partner with Walker to help lobby local entities to improve Walker road south to Senator HWY. This offer is truly appreciated and is of great importance to our community.
- High winds have resulted in uprooted trees falling across Walker Road, Forest property and Private property in the past two months. These trees would have impacted the proposed line. Thinning as a mitigation will cause shallower rooted trees to have more wind incident upon them which could increase the rate of fall.
- Although APS’s argument that poles along Walker would allow for easier access to any fire started by a downed line is true, it assumes that the fire could and would be suppressed. Fires such as the Goodwin fire could not be suppressed, despite the best efforts of firefighters, due to a single tree torch which caused several spot fires. This remains a major concern.
- Walker road is a curvy narrow road with a 40MPH to 50MPH speed limit. Drivers are frequently required to evade wildlife and share the road with bicyclists since there are no bike lanes. The concern is that placing 140 metal poles along the roadway will increase the likelihood of an accident leading to injury or death.
Questions remain on how APS has made the decision not to bury the lines.
APS stated that the engineering of this project is still in the early stages but the decision not to bury the lines has been made. The basis appears to be cost, the presumption of rock formations in the proposed route and the need to build two person manholes in the curves for maintenance and ease of pulling the line.
- It is still unclear whether APS has done an economic analysis which extends beyond current construction costs since no cost analysis or FMEA analysis is available to the public for review.
- It appears that limited weight was placed on the current data from California et.al. that fires are being triggered by above ground power lines in contact with trees and fallen lines. There was no data provided on the differential rate of fire occurrence between buried and above ground lines.
The best solution to mitigate all these concerns is to bury the power lines. The Walker Community supports and continues to advocate for this solution wholeheartedly.