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Transmission lines in the southern part of Columbia are being built to reliably deliver electricity to this area and meet federal standards. This project involves adding transmission lines to connect the new Millcreek substation on Peach Tree Drive with some of the existing substations. After gathering input from those living in the area, three preferred routes to run the lines were developed: Option A, B and B-2.
A survey was available from November 2012 through January 2013 to gain perspective on the selection criteria and the most favorable route. The Columbia City Council reviewed a report of the public’s feedback about the proposed electric transmission line project at their meeting on Monday, May 20.
Download the presentation in a pdf file: June 13 City Council work session (6.87 MB)
Thursday, June 13, 2:00 pm: City Council work session, Council Chambers, City Hall, 701 E. Broadway
The June 13 work session will be rebroadcasted on the City Channel. (Mediacom channel 80, Charter Communications channel 992 and CenturyLink channel 96) at these times:
- Friday, June 13 through Sunday, June 16: 6:00 am, 10:00 am, 6:00 pm, 10:00 pm
- Monday, June 17 through Thursday, June 20: 2:00 am, 2:00 pm
- Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23: 6:00 am, 10:00 am, 6:00 pm, 10:00 pm
After the meeting, the video will also be available online at:
Monday, July 15: Public Hearing, City Council meeting (public comment opportunity)
Monday, August 5: If needed, Public Hearing, City Council meeting
Monday, August 19: If needed, Public Hearing, City Council meeting
Option A map - publicly preferred route
Option B map - publicly preferred route
Option B-2 map - publicly preferred route
Construction cost comparisons: overhead vs underground for each option
Presentation from the November 13 open house meeting
The initial route study from the fall of 2010 is now being referred to as Option A. The intent of the Option A alignment study was to connect 161 kV circuits to the Mill Creek substation from the Grindstone, Perche Creek, and McBaine substations. This option had various routes for each section of the project. Public feedback was used for the evaluation matrix to determine the preferred routes for Option B.
memo about Option A that went to Council on April 18, 2011
The intent of the alternatives in the Option B alignment study is to connect the Mill Creek substation with 69 kilovolt lines along the existing 69 kilovolt line route from the Grindstone substation to the Hinkson Creek substation. Option B will place the Mill Creek substation in series with the 69 kilovolt circuit from Grindstone to Hinkson Creek substations. In addition, Option B connects the McBaine substation to the Perche Creek substation via a 161 kilovolt line routed along the southwestern periphery of the city limits as Council suggested. Public feedback was used for the evaluation matrix to determine the preferred routes for Option B.
After the publicly preferred route for Option B was identified, Columbia Water & Light staff looked into the possibility of moving a section of the line to city owned property near the Waste Water Treatment Plant, the city’s wetland cells and the Water Treatment Plant. These properties also contain a section of the MKT trail. Option B-2 was presented to the City Council in August 2012 and at a public meeting in November.
Report to the City Council on 8-20-12: Millcreek Substation Transmission Study - Option B
Download a pdf file of the time line. The Columbia City Council will hold a work session on Thursday, June 13 at 2:00 pm in the Council Chambers, City Hall, 701 E. Broadway. This meeting will give the City Council a chance to review the options with Columbia Water & Light's staff. A public hearing for the proposed electric transmission line project is scheduled for the July 15 Columbia City Council meeting. The City Council could also hold public hearings on August 5 and August 19, if they feel they are needed.
It is possible to bury electric transmission lines but it costs more than burying distribution lines. Placing transmission lines underground costs approximately seven to ten times more than placing the lines overhead. Construction costs for building overhead lines could increase electric rates for Columbia by 1.2% to 1.5%. Constructing the transmission lines underground could raise rates by 8.9% to 11.5%. Both of these scenarios were based on using voter approved bond funds which are the lowest cost financing option. These estimates do not include easement acquisition. See the construction cost estimate chart for more information.
Underground electric transmission lines are less noticeable and have less opportunities for damage due to weather. They also require less tree trimming since the branches will not come in contact with the lines. Aside from the increased cost for construction, underground lines are more expensive to maintain and the electric lines have half the service life of overhead lines. Constructing the lines underground requires an invasive construction process. Vegetation can not be planted in the area of underground lines and land development is more restrictive.
Electricity is generated at a power station or power plant from fossil fuels or renewable resources. Approximately 90% of Columbia's energy comes from sources outside the city. Once the power is generated, it has to be moved to where it is going to be used. Large amounts of power are transferred with electric transmission lines. An interconnected network of transmission lines are commonly referred to as the power grid.
Transmission lines feed into substations where transformers step down the power to lower voltages. From there, power is delivered to individual electric customers by distribution lines. New distribution lines in Columbia must be placed underground according to city ordinances. In the older sections of town, distribution lines are mounted on wooden poles.
Electrical power delivery systems are built with an interconnected network of transmission and distribution lines. That way if there is a problem with one section of an electric line, operators can switch the flow and provide electricity to customers with another line. An interconnected electric grid helps the reliability of the system and can greatly reduce the length of an outage
To handle electric load growth in southern Columbia and for reliability purposes. There is a growing need for more electricity on the southern side of Columbia. Substations in the area are approaching their maximum capacity both electrically and physically. This makes them vulnerable to being overloaded which could cause power outages and damage to other equipment in the system.
Transmission systems need to be built so one outage will not cause overloading of another transmission line. If there are two outages, the system must be built so there are not cascading outages. A new substation and transmission lines in Columbia will reduce the loading on the existing substations, ensure greater electric reliability and will improve regional stability for the power grid.
Sega, Inc. was hired by the city to evaluate different transmission line routes to start the public discussion. The consultants divided the project into three different sections and proposed three to four different routes for each section. The initial routes were chosen using these criteria:
After the initial routes were selected, they were presented to the public and the City Council. Written public comment was tabulated to formulate a selection matrix for each route. Columbia Water & Light collected feedback during late 2012/early 2013 to determine the pubic's most favorable route and the preference for building overhead or underground electric transmission lines. Click here for a time line of the project.
A single arm transmission line could be used when there is only one transmission line
A double arm transmission line could be used when there are multiple electric lines
Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) are generated by the flow of electrons. Electric fields are established between points of different voltages. Magnetic fields are generated by electrons flowing in a conductor. EMF are generated by electric lines as well as many common household items.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Much of the research about power lines and potential health effects is inconclusive. Despite more than two decades of research to determine whether elevated EMF exposure, principally to magnetic fields, is related to an increased risk of childhood leukemia, there is still no definitive answer. The general scientific consensus is that, thus far, the evidence available is weak and is not sufficient to establish a definitive cause-effect relationship.”
Please see these web sites for more information about EMF and any possible health issues:
Environmental Protection Agency - (1 page overview with links)
Electric Power Research Institute – general overview and list of resources on EMF (5 pages)
Electric Power Research Institute - answers to frequently asked questions about EMF (2 pages)
Western Area Power Association – provides a basic overview of EMF and levels of EMF found in power lines (16 pages)
May 20, 2013
August 20, 2012
Report to the City Council: Millcreek Substation Transmission Study - Option B
Open House Meeting: September 28, 2011
Report to City Council: April 18, 2011
Council memo about Option A (other files from this meeting are listed above)
Change order to the contract with the Sega Engineering
Columbia Pre-City Council meeting: February 21, 2011
Download the power point presentation
Columbia City Council work session, November 22, 2010
Download the work session presentation
Watch the video of the work session
Questions and answers from the work session
Public Comment Overview for Option A
Download a .pdf with an overview of the top 5 the public concerns with the Perche, McBaine and Grindstone routes that were initially proposed under Option A. (Note: these are also included in the 2-21-11 power point presentation listed above)