The Oro Valley Town Council approved the $2.1 million for the burying of TEP power lines. The expenditure is for three projects that will be built on Tangerine and on Oracle Road. (See our previous postings ). The move preserves the view shed.
The measure passed 6-1. The lone dissent was from Council Member Burns. He noted that TEP had made a conscious decision not to bury the lines; that, in doing so, TEP was not operating as a responsible corporate citizen. This was especially troubling because TEP is an enormously profitable company. In addition, the company purports to be a positive influence in the communities it serves.
The TEP represented had previously noted that the decision to put the wires underground was made because the Arizona Corporate Commission will not TEP them recoup their costs in its rates.
In contrast to the comments of Commissioner Burns, Mayor Hiremath thanked TEP for giving Oro Valley the opportunity to bury the lines. TEP is also "contributing" about $400,000 to the project.
The Oro Valley contingency fund will pay for this project. It has yet to be determined whether this is a loan from the contingency fund, such as was done in funding a portion of the aquatic center overrun, or a permanent withdrawal of funds. The contingency fund balance will be above Oro Valley required levels (25% of the operating fund) after the payment of the $2.1 million.