TURLOCK — Somebody's going to be unhappy with the Turlock Irrigation District's new power line route. But the TID board of directors Tuesday agreed to pay more for a line that will displease fewer people.
The TID wants to build a substation on Grayson Road east of Crows Landing Road and string a power line 10 miles east to Geer Road near Hughson. A 69,000-volt line would run a short distance northward from the substation to the TID's Almond Power Plant.
Dairy operators, homeowners and the city of Ceres — which plans to expand Grayson Road — balked at the original preferred route along Grayson Road.
Neighbors say a 115,000-volt transmission line would hurt property values and could threaten their health. Farmers have threatened to sue if nearby cows give less milk.
Greg Tucker, TID Engineering & Operations Department manager, acknowledged that cows suffer near some power lines, getting a static charge when they drink and get hooked up to milkers. But he said the lines that would be near dairy operations would not have enough voltage to affect cows.
One speaker asked about pets. "I have a $2,000 bulldog. I don't want him smoking."
"Well, you could bring him to me," said Director Rob Santos, a veterinarian.
Tucker outlined several potential routes the TID could use; most of them would affect several homes and parcels.
The exception was along the TID's Lateral 2.5 canal and railroad tracks, which would use property on only three homes. The estimated cost is $13 million, or $1.7 million more than the Grayson Road route, which would affect nine homes.
"Directing us to look at Lateral 2.5 has some additional costs," General Manager Larry Weis said. "But that's where we probably need to go."
He said the next question regards the portion of the line from the canal to the substation. That could go along Morgan or Crows Landing roads or railroad tracks.
Tucker said putting lines along railroad tracks can be done, but working with railroad companies is a lengthy process.
Director Charles Fernandes said he has long advocated for that route, even if it's more difficult and pricier.
"It's the least amount of homes impacted," he said.
Not addressed Tuesday was the route the line will take on the east side of Highway 99, though several landowners in that area attended the meeting and asked about it. Weis said they would be notified before the board considers that part of the line.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2343.