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Power line debate resurfaces in Pueblo West as Black Hills puts forth new project

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A community in Pueblo County is outraged over a proposed plan to build a 39-mile-long power transmission line connecting Pueblo West to Canon City.

Thursday, Pueblo County Commissioners are set to hear from both Black Hills Energy, who applied for a House Bill 1041 application that would allow for the construction of the project, and those in Pueblo West who say the project puts their health and lifestyle at risk.

Black Hills Energy calls the project the Southern Colorado Reliability Upgrade. The line is meant to improve access to reliable electricity to all Black Hills customers but especially those living in Pueblo West and Canon City.

“[The transmission line] will produce $66 million in customer savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 71%, and increase renewable energy to 51%," said John Vigil, a spokesperson for Black Hills Energy.

In 2018, Black Hills Energy tried to build a similar line connecting Pueblo West and Canon City. That project was shot down by county commissioners.

“We were asked to go back and reengage with the community and we’ve done just that," Vigil said.

Black Hills says they have held community forums and reached out to the community to hear from the people in Pueblo West. They believe they have found the optimal path that impacts the least amount of homeowners.

"We had 11 different potential routes," said Vigil. "We determined by using existing utility easements throughout all of Pueblo West we would have a lower impact on residential and commercial customers."

However, dozens of Pueblo West Residents disagree with the newly proposed path, and the impact it could have on their community.

“This is possibly one of the worst routes they could take,” said Melvin Manrose, while dozens of neighbors in Pueblo West stood behind him Tuesday morning.

The current path of the proposed transmission line would take it through Wild Horse Creek Drainage. Directly behind several homes in Pueblo West.

Manrose is calling on the county commissioners to turn down the project just like they did back in 2018.

“[Black Hills] rectified none of the commissioners' concerns," Manrose said.
"All they did was move the transmission line from one corner to another.”

Manrose and several others say they don't believe Black Hills Energy has done an unsatisfactory job at keeping the public cued into their decision-making process for the project.

Ultimately they say they fear the transmission line will harm the local ecosystem, create a threat for future fires and lower property values in the area.

But Black Hills believes this project is necessary for the continued economic growth of the area.

Even the City of Pueblo has voiced its own opinions on the project. On Monday, Pueblo City councilmembers passed a resolution supporting the acceptance of the project by county commissioners.

All arguments will be laid out before county commissioners at a public hearing at the Sangre De Cristo Arts Center at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Local News / Pueblo

Dan Beedie

Dan is a bureau reporter based out of Pueblo. Learn more about Dan here.

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