November 27, 2022

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American Canyon discovers a power line paradox | Local News

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Here’s some strange math — put 250 feet of overhead utility lines underground along Highway 29, remove two poles in the process, and end up with four poles.

Two minus two equals four? That’s not the equation American Canyon wants as it tries to beautify what amounts to its Main Street.

The city Planning Commission in 2020 approved the Home2 Suites hotel. One of the conditions was that the hotel place underground the utilities along its highway stretch, which has two power poles.

A new city report mentions “an expectation that undergrounding would necessarily include removing the two existing overhead utility poles.”

But the two adjacent properties along the highway have no projects that would require them to underground lines. And that causes a problem.

Once the lines emerge from the ground on either side of Home2 Suites, they would be some distance from the next poles. That means two poles would have to be installed on the northern and southern edges of the Home2 Suites frontage.

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There’s more. City officials said they were “surprised to learn” these two relocated poles would each need an adjacent “riser pole” to transition the lines from the underground section.

Two minus two? In this case, the real equation is two minus two plus four.

On Thursday, the American Canyon Planning Commission discussed the matter. Commissioners agreed the overall approach of undergrounding power lines along Highway 29 as individual properties develop isn’t ideal.

“I’m just looking for that more comprehensive solution instead of piecemeal-ing this,” Commissioner Eric Altman said.

Mark Stumm of the hotel management firm Noble Hospitality Inc. said the hotel building is to be constructed soon. He too doesn’t like seeing overhead power lines along Highway 29.

“It just sort of blurs the beauty of everything,” Stumm told the commission.

Having all the lines underground along Highway 29 in American Canyon would raise the city’s image, he said. “These are little components that will enhance the desirability for people to do commerce in American Canyon and for tourism to come to American Canyon,” said Stumm. 

The hotel has worked with PG&E in fits and starts for two years on the undergrounding project, Stumm said. It fought the need for the two riser poles, but it turns out they are essential.

“We’ve gone through several iterations with their design team and nothing has been really satisfactory,” he said.

Stumm agreed the city should take a comprehensive approach in undergrounding Highway 29 lines. But he also wants to keep his project on schedule, saying delays at this point would be costly.

American Canyon hasn’t figured out yet how the Home2 Suites requirement to underground its lines might fit in with a comprehensive approach. It is to take up the issue again on July 28.

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