PUD looks at fiber-optic concerns | SierraSun.com

PUD looks at fiber-optic concerns

Truckee-Donner Public Utility District staff presented a negative declaration for the construction of a fiber-optic backbone system in Truckee and asked boardmembers to approve a Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) application which will allow the PUD to enter into the telecommunications business at last nights board meeting.

The negative declaration, which was circulated to the Town of Truckee, the State Clearinghouse, Nevada Country LAFCo and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, declares the installation of the 33-mile fiber-optic cable will not have a significant effect on the environment.

“Because the fiber-optic cable would be installed along existing facilities, with only minimal trenching along existing roadways, there would not be any impacts to any of the resources of concern,” wrote TDPUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister in the negative declaration. “The vehicles, equipment, and methods to be used in the installation are the same as those used during routine line maintenance activities for repairing overhead lines or underground conduit.”

Resources of concern included: aesthetics, agricultural resources, air quality, biological resources, geology and soils, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, land use and planning, mineral resources, noise population and housing, public services, recreation, transportation and utilities and service systems.

According to district findings, there would be no impact on any of the resources.

The study was conducted in accordance with the district’s local environmental guidelines and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines. The board will be asked to adopt the CEQA findings at the next meeting, PUD staff, said.

The document indicates the fiber-optic cable line will begin near the western end of Donner Lake on existing overhead poles along South Shore Drive and travel north to Donner Pass Road. The line will continue along Donner Pass Road in an east-west direction for approximately 6 miles. The line will also be installed along several arterial roads and rights of way as follows:

– From Commercial Row to the southeast along Brockway Road/Highway 267 for 3 miles, ultimately tying into existing power poles or in new conduit adjacent to the Highway – ending at a point southeast of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport.

– From Commercial Row to the northeast along Glenshire Drive for about 6 miles, ending in three separate spurs east of the Cambridge Estates area.

– From Commercial Row/Glenshire Road to the north along Highway 267 for about 2.5 miles ending near the Prosser Lakeview Estates area, with one spur traveling northeast for about 2 miles along Prosser Dam Road ending along Prosser Village Road and another westbound spur traveling along Alder Road to new conduit to be installed adjacent to Alder Hill Road.

– From the intersection of Donner Pass Road north circuitously along Northwoods Boulevard and Skislope Way, and eastward along residential streets to join the westbound cable installed along Alder Hill Road.

According to the report, none of the fiber cable installation will require any new excavation away from existing roads, or the installation of any power poles.

“Physical disturbance will be limited to minor trenching for conduit installation within 8 feet of existing road shoulders,” said Holzmeister in the report.

Trenching operations along residential streets will be limited to times between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to avoid noise nuisance impacts, staff said.

The public utility district board was asked to approve the district’s LAFCo application for the latent power to deliver telecommunications services.

If the LAFCo application is approved by the board, the commission will most likely review the application by the end of the month.

According to TDPUD General Counsel Steve Gross, because providing fiber-optics cable service is a “new and different service” than any other service the district currently provides, LAFCo approval is necessary. He also said that he believes that special districts like the PUD have the latent power to enter into the provision of many diverse services, “including the delivery of water, power, telephone, and other means of communication.”

“A fiber-optics cable system is a means of communication and I believe that it is clearly within the definition of an ‘other means of communication’ as set forth in Section 16461,” said Gross. “Therefore, I believe that the district is able to construct, own and operate a fiber optics cable system and do all other things necessary and convenient in providing this service.”

Section 16461 of the California Public Utilities Code says, “A district may acquire, construct, own, operate, control, or use within or partly without the district, works for supplying its inhabitants with light, water, power, hear, transportation, telephone service or other means of communication … “

The results of last night’s meeting were not available by press time.

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