A power-line project in Mora County is expected to reduce the number of outages in that area, an official says.
But some say that the new lines will hurt the area’s scenery.
Abran Romero, general manager of the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative, said the utility plans to start putting up the poles in mid-April from La Cueva to Mora.
Six years ago, the cooperative completed the Rainsville substation and put up new lines from Rainsville to La Cueva with a $4 million loan, he said. But the utility didn’t have the money to continue those lines for the more than five miles from La Cueva to Mora.
So the cooperative got a $5.8 million loan to bring the double-circuit lines to Mora, among four other projects, Romero said.
As is stands, the Rainsville substation is only operating at 4 percent capacity, he said. Once the new lines are built, the substation will be fully operating, thus reducing the number of outages, he said.
Those outages happen because of low-voltage conditions during peak usage times, according to the cooperative’s newsletter. The areas often affected include Sapello, El Carmen, Ledoux, Guadalupita and Chacon.
The entire area north of Storrie Lake stands to benefit from the project.
The new lines will also provide a backup system should the Storrie Lake substation go out.
Jashe Alcon, who heads the ditch association in La Cueva, said he and other members of that group don’t like that the power lines will be next to N.M. Highway 518. They’ll negatively impact the scenery, he said.
He questioned why the cooperative couldn’t put the lines away from the highway, as is currently the case with existing lines. He also said the cooperative could possibly put the lines underground, as it did at a ranch when it built the lines from Rainsville to La Cueva six years ago.
“They said the cost of an underground line is prohibitive,” said Alcon, the mayordomo of the ditch association, called La Acequia del Cañoncito de la Cueva. “They don’t want to consider a public meeting. They’re trying to shove this down our throats. This will lower the value of our properties. It’ll totally destroy the entrance to the Mora Valley.”
Romero said he didn’t know the details behind the underground line because that was years before he joined the cooperative. But he said the cooperative has a right to put up the lines in the highway easement.
He said the current lines in the fields away from the highway are problematic because taking bucket trucks there hurts the alfalfa crop during the spring, summer and fall. And in the winter, it’s difficult to get there in the snow, he said.
He said the ditch association has asked for compensation for the new lines, but he said the utility couldn’t afford to do so.
Besides, he said customers in other parts of the cooperative’s coverage area wouldn’t want to see an increase in rates to compensate La Cueva residents.
“We have to look at the entire consumership as a whole,” Romero said.
Romero said the cooperative is trying to have the poles blend in with the environment. They’ll be rusty-colored steel poles, he said.