Wasilla’s planning commission has voted to allow MEA to build a 115 kilovolt transmission line east of the city, with the caveat that the line be underground, instead of on towers.
MEA spokesman Kevin Brown says burying the line will quadruple the cost of the project. MEA had planned to use 80 – 100 foot towers for the lines. He says towers would cost MEA 10 million dollars, while burying the line would cost about 40 million dollars. Brown said the costs would be passed on to MEA’s customers.
MEA has filed an appeal with the city of Wasilla challenging the commission’s decision on 17 points
“The appeal was actually filed with the city of Wasilla, in request that they appoint an appeals officer, per their code, who would review all the evidence, review the complete record, and render a decision or not as to whether or not their planning commission acted properly.”
MEA claims the Wasilla planning commission’s decision against using power poles for the lines was based on a comprehensive plan that lacks reference to major energy projects.
“What we are hoping for is that the appeals officer will review the points of our appeal and say that the planning commission did not follow it’s own guidelines when it rendered its decision. That it based its decision on emotion rather than on its own comprehensive plan which holds out as a key priority commercial development. And this certainly is part of that commercial development necessity.”
Wasilla’s City Council is expected to appoint a hearing officer for the case later this month
In June of this year, MEA’s board of directors approved a resolution against the city of Wasilla’s actions against MEA’s plan. Brown says that it is possible that MEA could appeal to the courts or go to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska for some form of relief if
Brown says MEA is following the city of Wasilla’s appeals process. He says it may take two months or more to resolve the issue.