Originally Published: July 9, 2018 6:01 a.m.
The roadside view of Prescott’s Willow Lake is getting significantly busier this summer with the addition of a series of 65-foot-high electrical poles.
A contractor for Arizona Public Service (APS) has been working since about mid-June on the installation of the 69,000 volt (69kV) power line on the north side of Willow Lake Road.
A number of the large poles were already in place near the Willow Lake Road curve this week, and crew members with the contractor, Sturgeon Electric, were working from bucket trucks on the line installation.
The powerline stands between the road and the scenic Granite Dells view of Willow Lake - a factor that APS Program Manager Kendra Lee said was weighed during the planning for the power line.
“We recognize that it’s not a favorable option,” Lee said of the lakeside location. But she pointed out that the line was rerouted to get it away from homes on the nearby Mountain Lake Road.
“The lines were directly over these homes,” Lee said, adding that the rerouting of the powerline was “the lesser of evils.”
A June 15 letter from APS to customers stated that the project was one of several “investments to our infrastructure in an effort to continue delivering some of the most reliable service in the industry to our customers.”
Lee said the 65-foot-high poles are “pretty typical in size.”
The power line will eventually connect up with Highway 89. The letter from APS states that the second phase of the project would begin in spring 2019 and be complete by June.
The current phase got started in June 18 and will be complete by Aug. 15, according to the APS letter.
Prescott Public Works Director Craig Dotseth noted that the city worked with APS to identify a right-of-way easement for the line.
Along with approval of the easement, the Prescott City Council also recently approved a request for night work.
Dotseth said the night work is expected to occur on July 14, 16, and 18.
A city memo states: “In order to complete this work, an outage on the overhead transmission line is required. Due to summer loads, outages can only be taken at night.”
The APS letter added: “While we prefer to avoid night work, especially in residential areas, there are a few dates where night work is required in order to disconnect power to the major transmission power line in the area and safety perform the work.”
Because of night conditions, multiple lights will on site, according to the city memo. The majority of the night work will take place at the Willow Lake Road intersections of Britni Drive and Mountain Lake Road.
Although the work requires a power disconnection, Lee said it would not cause an electrical outage to APS customers in the area.
While the powerline will be near the city’s Willow Lake Loop Trail, officials say it will not interfere with the trail.
Dotseth noted that the trail has largely remained open and usable during the powerline installation, as has the parking area near the Willow Lake Road curve.
Recreation Service Director Joe Baynes said the trail was the main concern during his department’s review of the APS plans.
“We looked at it, and we wanted to make sure it didn’t interfere with the trail, which it doesn’t,” he said, adding, “You have to look at the public benefit.”