Mammoth wants power lines under ground


Public Works unveils $1.5 million Main Street project

They are as ugly as sin and as dangerous as the next powerful windstorm, earthquake or blizzard.

Mammoth’s Main Street overhead power lines, which carry the main load of electricity to the town, are so unsightly and hazardous that Public Works Director Ray Jarvis this past week made a commitment to bury the problem.


Under a somewhat complex $1.4 million financing scheme, Jarvis on Wednesday presented to the Town Council a plan to underground about 1,200 feet of overhead power lines along the north right-of-way of Main Street, west toward Viewpoint Road.

The project date is set for start in May 2015, Jarvis said.

“It is the single most important project for us to do,” Jarvis said in remarks previous to the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, May 1.

“First of all, they are big ugly poles,” he said of the aesthetic impact of the power lines.

“Secondly, they are the main power source for the entire town. They are vulnerable to wind and blizzards, earthquakes and traffic collisions, and that’s not where we want to be.”

If the town succeeds in taking the power lines underground and ditching the poles, the project also would add a piece to the ongoing Main Street Revitalization effort.

“You’d definitely notice the difference,” Jarvis said.

To make the project work, the town would use $47,000 in state funds that are part of the California budget earmarked for undergrounding projects.

Another piece of the financing would come from the Mammoth View hotel/townhouse development, which is still on the table and would be situated along Main Street near Minaret Boulevard.

Yet another part of the financing would come from Southern California Edison, Jarvis said, while the last piece would come from unused undergrounding allocation monies from Mono County.

The funding partnership is based on California Public Utility Commission regulations that allow for tariffs that consist of elements that allow state allocations to public and private entities.

In the plan, no actual dollars change hands. Rather, the amount is an assignment of funds from Southern California Edison’s capital budget.

Each government entity receives a tariff amount, but because Mammoth’s share could not possibly pay for the project, it will ask the county to “loan” its allotment.

If the Mono County Board of Supervisors declines to loan its allocation to fund the project, Jarvis said it would be “unlikely” that the project could be completed as he envisioned it.

Rather, the town would have to wait until it accrued the necessary balance of allocations to fund the project, and that would take as many as 20 years, Jarvis said.

Jarvis said he intended to address the Mono County board of Supervisors about the plan at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, May 7.