Arizona Public Service will soon install new power lines to boost the area's electric service, and the company is counting on the public's input to decide where those lines are installed.
"Essentially, the project will allow APS to reinforce its existing lines, creating a redundancy, if you will," said Richard Knox of the Environmental Planning Group, the firm hired by APS to conduct a site study. The new transmission line will tie in with the Tonto substation, just northwest of the Rim Country Middle School. Where, exactly, that line goes in is up to a group of volunteers who will work closely with APS and the EPG to study all aspects of the project.
"The way we conduct these studies is to select a cross-section of community members," Knox said. "These people act as a sounding board for the community at large. They are the community workgroup, or CWG members."
The 10-member group has already been selected, Knox said, and includes housewives, realtors, a pastor, a historian, and Town of Payson staff."
The first CWG meeting is next Wednesday. In all, the CWG will meet three times to go over land-use maps, environmental survey studies, impact study maps, and the criteria needed to plan a new transmission line route.
A project like this can cause controversy if private property has to be taken to install the line, Knox said.
"That's always a sensitive topic," he said.
There's also an aesthetic aspect to such a project, he said, that typically results in protests by the not-in-my-backyard crowd.
"No one likes to see transmission lines in their back yards," he said. "Everybody wants the line somewhere else."
But Knox said he doesn't expect either problem to arise during this project.
"Basically, the structure that we're looking at is a 60- to 65-foot single steel or wood pole structure," he said. "If you drove south out of Payson, about eight or 10 miles south, there's a typical structure that crosses (highway) 87 that's sited adjacent to the existing line. That's the structure they're proposing."
In addition to the community group's three meetings, Knox's company will hold two open houses to give local residents a chance to look over the plans and offer comments.