Kinder Morgan has ended a stalemate with farmers and Montezuma County over a controversial plan to install 10 miles of private power lines west of Pleasant View.
The CO2 company decided last week to hire Empire Electric to run additional power along existing poles to run three new cluster stations and pipeline expansion.
“Thank goodness, we’re glad to hear that,” said Gala Pock, during a meeting Wednesday with landowners in Pleasant View.
Pock, along with dozens of farmers, have been outspoken opponents of the original private power-line project.
The Montezuma County commission backed the farmers by requiring that surface-use agreements be signed with 29 affected landowners before the lines could be installed.
Kinder Morgan negotiates surface-use agreements with private landowners. The agreements typically pay cash as compensation for use of the land and include other accommodations and reclamation.
But Kinder Morgan sued the county, claiming that while it negotiates the agreements in good faith, requiring them for the permit goes beyond county authority. The company has legal rights to develop infrastructure on private land to access underground mineral that it leases.
This week, Kinder Morgan dropped the lawsuit after agreeing to use Empire’s existing infrastructure to provide their additional power needs.
“I’m pleased to hear that a commonsense approach prevailed,” said county commissioner Steve Chappell. “The landowners appreciate it, and it solved a lot of issues.”
Scott Ehmke, an operations manager for Empire, explained that the new lines for Kinder Morgan will be routed from the Anasazi substation off Road 15 and travel along existing poles or go underground.
He said an additional 2-3 miles of power lines will be built to accommodate Kinder Morgan’s needs, and some sections will be upgraded to Phase 3. Some poles locations will have to be relocated closer to each other for the new lines.
Empire hired Bob Clayton to negotiate right-of-way agreements for the few miles of new lines that will be added. The new sections will be southwest of Road 8 and Road BB, and also along Road 10 from where power lines currently end.
An advantage of Empire installing the additional lines is that the public will have access to them as well, Ehmke said.
“Farmers who did not have access can pull power for their center pivots or barns,” he said.
Kinder Morgan pays all capital costs for the new lines. Ehmke said local crews will do the installation, expected to be completed by June.