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One day this summer, if the sun beats hard enough to leave a warm nighttime blanket over the Wasatch Front, someone in Sandy could lose a refrigerator.

That may be the ultimate price for the hostility people feel toward high-voltage power lines, the steel towers that lumber through communities like nearsighted giants holding tightly to guy wires.Sandy and Utah Power officials are trying to negotiate a solution to a fight that has raged for years. It's not a unique fight. Upscale Sandy residents don't want tall, highly charged power poles in their neighborhoods, just as people prefer not to live next to a dump, a jail, a sewage treatment plant or any other unpleasant source of a service made increasingly necessary by growth.

What is unique is that Sandy has said Utah Power should pay to bury the transmission lines in question. In other words, all of the company's rate payers, including ones who live next to high-voltage lines in other parts of the state, should help please a relatively small group of people. The city went so far as to pass an ordinance requiring it.

Meanwhile, while everyone fiddled, new houses have continued to sprout like dandelions. Sandy's population grew by 12.8 percent between 1990 and 1994, the latest period for which census figures are available. The pace appears to have continued since then.

When the issue is aesthetics, the people involved should pay the price for a solution. Here's hoping both sides can reach a compromise that is fair to all before every city begins demanding underground lines.

Utah Power officials say they have a plan in place to keep brownouts from happening in Sandy and Draper this summer. They have two extra generators and radio-controlled switches that would trigger a power-outage before the more dangerous power fluctuations kick in.

Fluctuations wreak havoc on small compressor motors, such as those in refrigerators. They can even destroy appliances. Blackouts are less destructive but no less annoying to home computer users who forget to save before the screen goes blank.

The objections of Sandy residents are virtually identical to those of people in various pockets around the country. Simply put, they are that the poles and heavy lines are ugly and will hurt property values, and that they may be a health hazard.

The first claim has merit, but the second is doubtful.

No doubt, high-voltage lines detract from the value of a home. But that argues to the point that Sandy should pay to bury the lines unless current negotiations can locate a more suitable place for a substation than the one planned near 10600 South and 2000 East. In any event, frequent blackouts and the threat of dangerous fluctuations can't be too good for property values, either.

As for the health effects, two recent court decisions bode ill for the argument that power lines cause cancer. They also show people who worry about such things have a lot more than above-ground power lines to keep an eye on.

In one case, a New Jersey jury ruled that Atlantic Electric was not responsible for giving John Altoonian chronic myelogenous leukemia. Altoonian claimed electromagnetic fields from a nearby power line caused the illness. However, the jury did award the man $760,000 in damages for the emotional stress caused when the company discovered an underground line accidentally had been placed directly below the deck of his house.

In the other case, a Miami judge last month dismissed a suit against Florida Power & Light by Leonard Glazer of Coral Gables, Fla. He and his wife both contracted leukemia, and he blamed power lines that ran less than 25 feet from the bedroom where the couple slept for 20 years.

Tests showed the bedroom did indeed have a high level of electromagnetic activity, measured at 2.5 milligauss (consumer advocates believe levels higher than 2 milligauss pose dangers). But the same tests showed only 0.2 milligauss were from the power lines. The rest came from an underground water main to which the house was grounded for safety.

The trouble is, electromagnetic fields are found everywhere from nature to computers and home appliances. But, so far, scientific tests have yet to draw a link between them and cancer, and it hasn't been for lack of trying.

Unfortunately, Sandy and its residents appear to have a healthy mistrust for Utah Power. I'm not qualified to judge the issue, but I am encouraged that both sides are talking again - so long as any solution that involves burying lines doesn't end up costing the rest of us.