Comments Presented to the Mt. Shasta City Council
Submitted by Geneva Omann
I am here as a representative of the non-profit, WA.T.E.R. to request that the City Council send a formal request to Siskiyou County asking that they initiate negotiations with Pacific Power to put the powerlines associated with the Lassen Substation upgrade project underground. Please make this an agenda item for your next meeting and act as quickly as possible. The area for these lines is within your “sphere of influence” and as an agency, keeping our area safe from fire danger is crucial.
These lines are in unincorporated Siskiyou County and the County has $5 million in Rule 20A funds that are expressly for undergrounding powerlines, with fire safety being an expressed purpose for use of those funds. The power lines are in an area CPUC designates as a Tier 3 fire hazard, the highest danger level CPUC designates. A fire started along those power lines would be devastating for both the City and the County. We are just as fire-prone here as was Paradise, CA in 2018, when an above ground powerline failure destroyed their whole town. Much of Happy Camp was destroyed just this last summer by the Slater Fire. An ongoing lawsuit claims the Slater Fire was also started by above-ground power lines. The best time to avoid a disaster is before it happens.
Pacific Power will complain that it is too expensive to put the lines underground. This statement reflects the company’s priority to raise profits for its investors rather than protect the communities it is supposed to serve. Now is when it will be the least expensive to put the powerlines underground because the existing poles and lines are scheduled to be removed anyway. Although many factors affect cost, putting a line through a rural meadow area with relatively few residences, such as this project entails, is considerably cheaper per mile than putting lines through residential neighborhoods where many preexisting utility services need to be crossed. So Pacific Power's rough estimates should not be accepted as fact particularly because their cost estimates will not take into account the dire consequences of getting this wrong.
Please advocate for the safety of this City’s residents and the many people in this City’s sphere of influence. Thank you.