Oct 10, 2010 8:06 PM by Matt Stafford

"Green" project has neighbors seeing red

Ever since Joe Chapman got a letter saying high voltage power lines were possibly going up behind his home, he started talking to neighbors to find out what they knew.

"Of sixty or seventy people (that he spoke to), only six people got a letter." Chapman explains. He lives on Ft Smith Road in El Paso County, directly adjacent the County land for Clipper Windpower's Golden West project.

Chapman went to a meeting held by Clipper on September 9th, to talk about the lines set to transfer wind power from Calhan. He says he was a little worried when he got there, because he was the only neighbor there.

"I don't think that Clipper really went through enough effort to notify residents," Chapman says.

Mary Gates, a spokesperson for Clipper, says Golden West is a project they've been seeking input on from neighbors; mailing flyers to the properties directly along the County Right-of-Way that the lines would have to be built through.

"Clipper has been actively encouraging local input to the project planning and will continue to do so," Gates said in a letter to News First 5.

However; because of other lines, and the Rock Island Regional Trail, Clipper is limited as to where they can put their lines.

"In the area that they are able to build it's actually about 45 feet, and that's from our property line to that trail," Chapman explains. He says that distance is much narrower than Clipper representatives showed him.

"They were talking about 300 feet."

But Gates assures, property lines will be watched.

"No portion of the proposed line will overhang the property lines of local private land owners," Gates explains, but didn't give exact distances that their project maps show for the area behind Chapman's home.

Chapman says instead of Clipper taking the chance that their lines might overhang, he says the neighbors have an option for the company that they would be fine with.

"If they could bury this thing for a half of a mile, then we would have no concern what so ever," Chapman says, but he adds that he's sure burying the lines will cost more. He says he also doesn't know if Clipper will listen to their ideas.

At Clipper, they say they are listening to that idea and others, but didn't discuss what the difference in cost would be for the alternative proposals.

Details for the Golden West project are still being worked out; construction isn't set to begin until 2012 or later, and the County Commissioners still have to give approval on an easement to build through the County Right-of-Way. Officials say the Parks Board will likely discuss the issue this week. At some point, they'll give a recommendation to County Commissioners, who will make the final decision.



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