Main Street power line undergrounding project ready to roll


County agrees to help fund the project

The power lines along a section of Main Street will get buried beginning in 2015 after Mono County agreed Tuesday, May 7, to help the Town of Mammoth Lakes take on the unsightly—and dangerous—overhead power lines.

The power lines—old and deteriorating—are vulnerable to the next storm or blizzard, according to town public works officials.

The new undergrounding project will tap state, Southern California Edison, and other funding sources, including county funds after Tuesday’s vote by the Mono County Board of Supervisors.

The problem lines are on the north side of Main Street, from the Union 76 gas station to Viewpoint Road, according to county and town staff.

“Let’s go for it,” said supervisor Byng Hunt, who represents a district wholly within the town boundaries.

“Every time we can help Mammoth be safer, be more attractive to visitors, I like to do so. This town generates 70 percent to 80 percent of the county’s income.”

It’s well worth the county supporting such a project, he said.

Town of Mammoth Lakes Public Works Director Ray Jarvis noted Tuesday that the project could take “11 to 12 years” to fund without the county’s help.

“This is something that neither of us could do alone,” Jarvis said, pointing to the project as an example of town and county cooperation.

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.

Mammoth Times Managing Editor George Shirk contributed to this report.