(KCPW News) Cities across the country and Utah are opting to bury their power lines instead of stringing them overhead, and one Democratic state lawmaker wants to help them pay for it. House Bill 291, sponsored by Representative Joel Briscoe, allows city councils to approve a tenth of a cent sales tax hike to be used solely for burying utility lines. He says there are many good reasons to halt the construction of new above-ground lines, aside from saving trees.
“In southern California, they want to bury lines because a number of fires in their foothills are often caused by arcing lines.” Briscoe says. “If you’re in southern Florida and you get hurricane force winds, if the lines were underground they wouldn’t have to string them up on poles again. And there have been studies done suggesting that it increases the property value of people’s homes.”
Briscoe says newer communities like Saratoga Springs and Daybreak are already burying utility lines, while more well-established cities are finding it’s too expensive to bury already existing lines.
Today, Briscoe asked the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee to hold the bill, after learning he had Rocky Mountain Power on board.
“More and more of their customers are interested in undergrounding powerlines, and they indicated that they would be willing to study this issue over the summer and see if we can come up with something for next session, a year from now.” He says.
Briscoe notes his bill has the support of the West Valley City Manager, along with the Utah League of Cities and Towns
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