Co-op plans for more reliable power

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By David Giuliani

A rural electric project that is expected to reduce the number of power outages is slated to start next month.

The Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative recently received approval to move forward with the project from the state Transportation Department.

As it stands, power outages frequently leave more than 5,000 area residents in the dark. The cooperative serves customers in rural San Miguel, Mora, Santa Fe and Guadalupe counties.

The new power line will be next to N.M. Highway 518 and will have the ability to draw power from the Rainsville substation. Currently, the Storrie Lake substation is the only source of power for the customers.

The new line will be 5.8 miles long, with poles from 38 to 52 feet high. The majority of the line will be built within the highway’s right-of-way.

“We anticipate installation will take about three to four months and be completed in October, just before the cold weather sets in,” said Abran Romero, the cooperative’s general manager.

Not everyone is happy with the new line. Kelley Fahey Alcon, a property owner where the new line will be installed, argues that the line will impact the scenery of the entrance to the Mora Valley.

She said a petition against the project has 200 signatures.

“They have disregarded that,” she said. “They’re trying to downplay the whole project. The residents are not against updating the electrical line. They are against high-voltage power lines probably 10 to 30 feet from their homes. Our concern is the beauty of the valley.”

She said she and other residents have asked that the line go underground. But that would be much more expensive, Romero said.

Romero said the project has been in the works for years.

“This project should have been completed in 2003. Due to turnover in managers and staff, there’s not a lot of in-house institutional knowledge right now,” he said. “We have had to do the research and pull documents.”