Power line proposal draws objections from landowners

Lyon Co. Board grants permit for project along part of Lyon County Road 8

Photo by Deb Gau East River Electric plans to rebuild power lines located along a portion of Lyon County Road 8 in Nordland Township.

MARSHALL — Neighbors of a power line that runs along part of Lyon County Road 8 voiced objections to a plan to rebuild the line closer to their property. Members of the Lyon County Board heard from both East River Electric and Lyon County resident Scott Josephson on Tuesday when the energy cooperative sought a conditional use permit for a 69-kilovolt transmission line in part of Nordland Township.

Josephson told county commissioners he had concerns about the power lines running through property he and his siblings own.

“This power line will cross the front yard of my family’s home,” Josephson said.

Commissioners had mixed reactions to the proposal, but ultimately voted 3-2 in favor of granting the CUP.

Lyon County zoning administrator John Biren said East River Electric, the cooperative that supplies power to Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative, was seeking a CUP to rebuild a transmission line that would run through sections 7 and 8 of Nordland Township and into Lincoln County. The planned power line route would replace existing lines on the south side of Lyon County Road 8, which were built in 1968.

The county planning and zoning board held a hearing on East River’s CUP request last week, and was recommending approval of a permit, Biren said. The conditions East River Electric would have to follow included that the transmission lines be built within the right of way or 90 feet from the center of the road, and that construction activities minimize impact on livestock and farm field access.

The county had received letters from some neighboring landowners, including Scott, Jyl and Kevin Josephson, objecting to building the power lines on the north side of the road.

Scott Josephson said he had questions about how much clearance the transmission lines would have above the level of the road, as well as concerns about the impact on property values, and possible health effects from being close to the transmission lines.

“Just because it’s the preferred route of the power company, doesn’t mean it’s in the best interest of the community,” he said.

Josephson said he learned of the project through a letter that made it seem “as though we had no say in the matter.”

Josephson said one possible alternative to East River’s plan would be to route the transmission line about a mile south, along 310th Street. Josephson said his family also owned land along 310th Street, and would be willing to grant an easement and remove trees in the way of the transmission route.

However, East River Engineering Manager Matt Mohr said the cooperative wanted to make sure it could have safe and reliable access to the power line in case of an emergency. Paved roads like County Road 8 tend to be better maintained and more reliably kept clear in snow and adverse weather conditions, he said.

Burying the transmission line would also mean additional costs to cooperative members, Mohr said. Biren shared an email about that possibility from LLEC General Manager Tim O’Leary. O’Leary said the co-op board was not interested in burying the transmission line due to the costs. O’Leary said it cost around $80,000 per mile to bury three-phase electrical lines like the ones East River planned to build.

Mohr said the proposed route along County Road 8 had been approved by the Rural Utilities Service.

Commissioner Steve Ritter said he was “torn” about what the best course of action would be.

“I can appreciate East River’s reasons for following the proposed route, but I think there’s a lot of merit to this proposed alternate route,” he said.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow said he was concerned about what kind of precedent the board’s actions would set on future power line projects in the county.

Biren cautioned the board that county ordinances said they would need to take action within 60 days of East River’s application for a CUP. The application was received on May 17.

Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of granting the permit application. Commissioners Ritter and Paul Graupmann cast the votes against.


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