Thursday, April 18, 2013
How would you like being kept in the dark about a project that could decimate the environment and value of your homestead, many other homesteads and special natural places in your area? A home you worked hard to pay for over decades?
When you are finally notified that your land will be mowed down for a huge new power transmission line, you have only 30 days to respond to a commission that says, “individual concerns of landowners will not be considered.”
Property owners potentially impacted have learned that public officials in Carroll and Benton Counties have known about the proposed Southwest Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) high voltage transmission line for months. SWEPCO met with the Carroll County Judge on Oct. 2, 2012, and Mayor Morris Pate on Nov. 14, 2012.
Pate said SWEPCO representatives showed him several proposed routes for the new power line. “They never indicated it was a secret, nor did they ask me to keep it confidential,” Pate said. “No, I did not tell anyone. This is outside the city limits, and I’m not responsible for what happens in the county. I didn’t know it would be this controversial. Besides, I thought people liked electricity.”
“In other words, our City of Eureka Springs and county government have been participants in a conspiracy to keep us in the dark until the last minute regarding plans that have long been underway to deprive us of the beauty and value of our land,” said Doug Stowe, a woodwork artist and teacher who was named an Arkansas Living Treasure in 2009. “They have conspired to keep us from being able to act in the defense of our own rights.”
If the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) were to approve use of route 91 – one of six routes under consideration – a line that would cut a 150-ft. swath through Stowe’s property located between the train station and the city sewer plant.
“The right of way, which would be treated regularly with herbicides, would come as close as 75 feet from our deck,” Stowe said. “To have this prospect thrust upon us with only 30 days notice while SWEPCO’s plan has been in the works since 2007 is an outrage. Folks throughout this part of Carroll County are feeling the same thing. There is one good reason for keeping my wife and me and all the other affected landowners in the dark. A sneak thief or a rapist will never give advance warning as to when they might strike.”
The process is patently unfair, but how else could SWEPCO get by with trampling over property rights to build a power line that isn’t needed in Carroll County in order sell dirty coal-fired power from the Turk plant located in south Arkansas? And let’s not forget, SWEPCO gets to do this at the expense of captive ratepayers!
SWEPCO said the line is needed “to provide increased reliability and overload relief in eastern Benton and Carroll Counties beginning in 2016.” Opponents suspect what is really afoot is that Carroll County get its scenic forests axed and water polluted in order for SWEPCO to sell dirty coal fired power outside of the state.
A brief summary of the Turk coal plant/SWEPCO power line: SWEPCO received a permit to build the 600-megawatt Turk plant near Hope at a estimated cost of $1.8 billion claiming this was needed to provide power to Arkansas. But in 2010, a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the Turk Plant was revoked by the Arkansas Court of Appeals. SWEPCO discovered a loophole in Arkansas law that permits operation of the plant provided the power is not sold in Arkansas.
SWEPCO lied about the need for the Turk Plant. Arkansas is getting tremendous pollution, but not the power. Now we are supposed to believe a huge 345 kV transmission line is needed for little Carroll County? We have to suspect SWEPCO now plans to destroy the natural beauty of the Ozarks to transport their power to other states. The question is, will APSC work to appease SWEPCO with permits for huge trunk lines not justified by the energy growth in Carroll County and Northwest Arkansas? Will SWEPCO get by with this shell game?
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