Columbia electrical-line project expected to impact utility rates

Jun 14, 2013

Credit ume-y / flickr

Columbia’s southern region is in need of new electrical transmission lines because of the region’s population increase – and Columbia’s Water and Light Department and City Council are discussing options for the region.

Representatives from the Department and council met yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to discuss one project that would create new transmission lines. Water and Light staff have proposed three line options to the council.

Officials say regardless of the option chosen residents should expect to see a utility-rate increase for the project.

Mayor Bod McDavid says it’s an essential project for Columbia. “It’s going to cost a lot of money,” he said. “It will reflect on utility rates and nobody wants to raise rates but we don’t have a choice.”

City Council members have reviewed public opinion on the issue. Citizen input was obtained through surveys conducted the Water and Light Department.

Columbia Water & Light Director Tad Johnsen says he thought the meeting was successful and helped reach “a level of understanding at least with the council members that is good for us to make progress going forward with this project.”

The Water and Light staff also proposed an option with underground transmission lines. These options were significantly more expensive, but did possess some advantages like less physical damage.

The next step for the project is a public hearing on July 15th.  The council is also expecting some discussion of the option of underground electrical lines in the area.