Every now and then, you witness an event where intelligent people take stock of a dicey situation, realize they are in a position to make a difference and take a stand. The Salt Lake City Planning Commission had just that chance tonight when it considered Rocky Mountain Power's proposal to dramatically expand its northeast substation at 1100 East and 144 South.
That substation is across the street from where I live, so this issue is personal for me. But hell, it was personal for dozens of folks ... homeowners, renters, workers and business owners. And they all came out on Earth Day evening and filled the council chambers to capacity to let the Planning Commission know. And for a moment, I honestly thought the commission was going to tell Rocky Mountain Power "no" and let the chips fall where they would.
It was Earth Day, after all. And highly regarded people were calling for a moratorium on power station expansions until the city created an energy master plan. The commissioners were asking tough questions about health concerns and sound decibles and impacts to the views. It all sounded very hopeful (at least, for those who wanted the substation to remain small and managable).
And then the feet of clay made their appearance.
The Planning Commission went on to approve Rocky Mountain's plan with no conditions, no stern lectures, no demands for something in return. OK, it was a close vote. But they could have used the opportunity to say something. To make a point about how we can do better. How power poles the size of Godzilla do not a quaint neighbhorhood make. But in the end, the majority felt it wasn't their job to drive policy.
So, we're makin' way for the big cranes, the big poles and the big wires in our hood. But beware: Today, it's our back yard, tomorrow it might be yours. And then you, too, will wonder why Rocky Mountain Power always gets its way and why there is no master plan. (Did I mention it was Earth Day?)