Pacific Power intends to expand its Hazelwood Substation in West Albany, and the city’s hearings board will review the utility’s request in a virtual hearing scheduled for July 30.
The Albany Community Development Department posted a notice of the application and the hearing on Thursday.
The substation lies between Southwest Queen Avenue and 17th Avenue. It serves to reduce power from a 115,000-volt transmission line to 69,000 volts for distribution to smaller substations.
To expand the station, which lies in a single-family residential zoning district, the utility needs city approval of a conditional use. It has also asked to combine six lots, including the five it owns on 17th Avenue and the one on Queen, into one.
Pacific submitted a site plan for cutting down trees on the property, plus a request for variances to allow an 8-foot-tall security fence topped by barbed wire in a residential zone, and one for not having landscaping around the perimeter.
The three-member hearings board will consider the application at a “virtual” meeting at 4 p.m. July 30. To take part, the public can log in or listen on the phone.
The city’s notice doesn’t say why Pacific wants to expand the substation. But scattered reports going back several years and available online list the Hazelwood expansion as one of many Pacific projects to improve the electric transmission system in line with requirements.
The city says the request will be considered in the light of approval standards of the Albany Development Code. But that’s unrealistic. How can a big substation surrounded by barbed wire be “consistent with the intended character of the base zone,” which the code requires, if the zoning is single-family residential?
This substation is an important part of the electric system. When a breaker there failed in April 2014, thousands of people lost power all the way to Corvallis. If it’s necessary for the system to work, then it has to be expanded regardless of what it says in the code. (hh)