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High-Voltage Transmission Lines Project

January 10, 2016

Dear Constituent:

I'd like to wish you a Happy New Year and ask for your input on an issue of intense debate at the present time - the route of high-voltage power transmission lines in southern Columbia. There will be a public hearing and possible Council action on this issue at the January 19th City Council meeting.

In 2013, I voted as part of a 5-2 majority for "Option A" along sections of Scott Blvd., Nifong Blvd., Grindstone Parkway, Providence Rd., and Route K. The alternatives, known as Routes B and B-2, both take a more southerly and less developed route along a shorter section of Scott followed by Howard Orchard Rd. or the MKT Trail, and Route K. Maps of these routes and all of the publicly available information on this project can be reviewed at the City's "Electric Transmission Project" web page.

At that time, I supported Option A primarily because that was City staff's strong recommendation and a citywide survey indicated that 76% of respondents preferred Option A. However, as construction crews have been preparing to install the transmission line poles, information has come to light that raises a number of concerns about the validity of the public process that was conducted in 2013:

  1. The poles may need to be made of metal, 6-8 feet in diameter at the base, and 100 feet tall - substantially different from what was indicated in 2013;
  2. The 2013 survey was completed by more than 1,000 Columbia Water and Light customers, but relatively few of them live in the affected area and many residents who do live in the affected area did not receive the survey because they are Boone Electric customers;
  3. A so-called "Decision Matrix", which was used to justify the selection of Option A, appears to be flawed.

Having said that, the City Council should not overturn a previous decision unless there is overwhelming evidence that the previous decision was wrong. In this case, a considerable amount of money has been spent to survey Route A for pole placements, which will not be recoverable. A figure of $7.1 million has been widely circulated, although it appears that this figure includes several large cost components for products and services that would still be needed even if a different route were selected.

On January 19th, City Council will decide whether to continue with Option A, direct staff to switch to one of the other options, or request more information before making a decision. If you care about this project, I encourage you to review the "Electric Transmission Project" information, let me know what you think we should do, and attend the public hearing on January 19th.

Are you ready to vote in 2016?

A strong democracy depends on everyone's voice being heard. Please make sure your voter registration is up to date by visiting the Boone County Clerk's web site.

Four important elections will be held in 2016:

  • March 15 (register by February 17): Presidential primary election and vote on whether to prohibit roll carts in Columbia
  • April 5 (register by March 9): Columbia City Council, Columbia Board of Education, and Columbia Public Schools bond elections
  • August 2 (register by July 6): Primary elections for Governor, Senator, and other State and County officials
  • November 8 (register by October 12): General elections for President, Governor, Senator, and other State and County officials

There is more information at my web site regarding registering for the first time and changes of address.

Ian Thomas for Fourth Ward Campaign Kick-Off

On April 5th, I am running for re-election as the Fourth Ward representative to City Council. Please join me for my Campaign Kick-Off Event:

Ian Thomas for Fourth Ward
Tuesday, January 26th, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Shakespeare's West
3304 Broadway Business Park Ct.

I also hope you will check out my policy platform, "like" my Facebook page and, if you are a Fourth Ward resident, vote for me on April 5th.

Finally, I will hold Constituent Conversations at Dunn Bros. Coffee from 2-4pm on Sundays, January 17, February 7 and 21. I look forward to seeing you there.

Cheers, Ian