Rocky Mountain Power seeks review by Utah board on 138-kV project

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) is asking the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) to convene the Utility Facility Review Board for a hearing after a Wasatch County, Utah, board denied a permit for the utility to construct a portion of the Evanston to Silver Creek transmission line.

RMP on Feb. 19 petitioned the PSC after the Wasatch County Board of Adjustments denied a conditional use permit for RMP to construct the small portion of the 138-kV project that would be within Wasatch County. The board denied the permit for a quarter-mile segment of the project within Wasatch County, where land use ordinances require the utility to obtain a conditional use permit prior to constructing that segment, RMP said.

The 74-mile Evanston to Silver Creek project would extend from the Railroad substation near Evanston, Wyo., to the Silver Creek substation near Park City, Utah, and construction of the northern part of the project has been completed, RMP said in a Jan. 12 project update posted on its website. The project would upgrade an existing line to improve reliability and operational flexibility in the area, with construction expected to be complete in 2017, RMP said.

As of the update, the line has been upgraded from Evanston, Wyo., to Coalville, Utah. RMP said in its update that it “continues working with elected officials and with landowners in the area to obtain permits required to construct the line from Coalville, Utah, to Park City, Utah.”

The project is expected to be completed in December 2017, an RMP spokesperson told TransmissionHub March 3.

The utility is seeking permits from Summit County for the segment south of Coalville to the southern end of the project, the spokesperson said.

Based on TransmissionHub data, the project is estimated to cost about $49m.

RMP does not disclose cost estimates of transmission projects during construction, but they are provided to regulators and are typically made public after completion, the utility spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

In the petition to the PSC, RMP said that the Wasatch County Board of Adjustments denied the conditional use permit on Jan. 21, and without the permit, RMP cannot construct the Wasatch County segment, which is “a required component of the overall project.”

RMP told the PSC that since the utility needs the permit to build the facility, it has grounds to seek relief from the state Utility Facility Review Board. The utility asked that the board determine that the Wasatch County segment should be built, that it specify the general location parameters of the segment, and that it direct the county to issue the permit.

In a Feb. 22 response to the RMP petition, the Utah Division of Public Utilities (DPU) said that the PSC should convene a hearing of the Utility Facility Review Board. That board is made up of five members – the three PSC commissioners and two governor appointees, one from a list provided by the Utah League of Cities and Towns and one from a list provided by the Utah Association of Counties, the DPU explained.

The DPU noted that it is a state consumer advocacy agency that makes recommendations to the PSC regarding utility rates, applications and other issues. Based on its review of the RMP petition, the DPU said that it “recommends that the commission convene the board and set an initial hearing to determine a procedural schedule.”

Utah regulations call for the board to convene an initial hearing within 50 days after the date a review is initiated, the DPU said. At an initial hearing, the board is to set a schedule for the proceeding and determine how the review will take place, including whether it will be conducted as a formal or informal adjudicative proceeding, the DPU noted.

In its request to the PSC, RMP asked that the board be convened and set a schedule to allow the utility and Wasatch County to file any reports, testimony or memoranda regarding their positions.

Noting that it recognizes that the board “may need to be formally reconstituted” before a hearing is held, RMP said it is “willing to meet and confer with the county” about whether additional time is needed before a hearing is convened.

RMP is part of PacifiCorp, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy.