Wednesday, July 03, 2013
“The Arkansas Public Service Commission should reject the SWEPCO application for a new 345 kV Shipe Road to King’s River 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line because SWEPCO and the Southern Power Pool (SPP) have not demonstrated need for this project,” said expert witness for Save The Ozarks (STO), Hyde M. Merrill, PhD, in testimony filed with the APSC Friday.
“It is quite clear that the applicant and SPP have not introduced adequate evidence that the project is needed,” Merrill, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and who was an employee of the parent company of SWEPCO, American Electric Power (AEP), for eight years, said. “I have seen no evidence that the necessary studies have been performed. In fact, studies I have performed indicate that the overloads identified in the 2006-2007 Ozark Transmission Study will no longer occur.”
In addition, Merrill said even if the needs did exist, SWEPCO did not consider alternative solutions that apparently are much less expensive and much less environmentally intrusive.
Merrill has published 90 technical papers and book chapters, including roughly two dozen on strategic planning in electric power. He said there are two key issues: 1. Is there a reliability or economic problem – a need for something to be fixed? 2. If so, is the proposed project the best solution for meeting that need?
“The planning studies conducted by SPP and referenced by the applicant are out of date,” Merrill said. “They do not justify the need for the proposed project in 2016 based on what is known today. In fact, I replicated the test cited in the Notification to Construct the project, albeit for 2015 instead of 2016, using a current SPP model, and found that the lines supposedly overloading will be far below their ratings. SPP’s current model shows that the problem does not exist.”
Merrill identified six alternatives to the project that he said the SPP failed to address:
- Do nothing, and dispatch generation to avoid overloads.
- Open the Avoca-Beaver 161-kV line.
- Open the Avoca-Beaver 161-kV line and build a second E Roger-Avoca 161-kV line.
- Install a special protection scheme that opens the Avoca-Beaver 161-kV line if the Flint Creek-Brookline 345-kV line trips.
- Install a phase-angle regulator, probably to limit the flows on the Avoca-Beaver 161-kV line.
- Install a flexible alternating current transmission system device, probably to limit the flows on the Avoca-Beaver 161-kV line.
Another STO expert witness, Dr. Richard Smardon, professor of Environmental Studies, State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science, evaluated SWEPCO’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with respect to the visual impact assessment of the proposed project. Smardon identified and discussed the following deficiencies in the EIS:
- There is not a complete project description.
- The EIS does not include consideration of tourism infrastructure such as nearby scenic and historic byways, hiking trails, scenic and recreational rivers plus major road approaches/routes to major recreational and tourism destination points.
- There is no landscape classification that differentiates existing landscape quality or sensitivity.
- No description was given for the method(s) used to determine visibility of towers and/or lines. Aerial and/or satellite images are inadequate for such determinations.
- There is no analysis of tourism facilities and activities. This is a major omission.
- Only very general statements are made about changes in visual character and viewsheds. The nature and types of impacts along the utility right-of-way will change depending on the existing landscape character.
- Because no detailed landscape classification, viewer sensitivity analysis, visibility analysis or visual simulations were done, it becomes speculation about which best mitigation practices need to be utilized.
- Finally, there is no assessment of cumulative impact in this EIS. This issue is critical when the analysts state they are going to use utility rights-of-way adjacent to existing utilities whenever possible.
- The other issue related to cumulative impact is the economic impact of power line corridors on residential property and amenity values, and as a consequence, property tax base, plus diminishing tourism activities and related revenues. This latter aspect seems especially critical for a region that is heavily dependent on tourism as this relates to local livelihoods.
(Editor’s note: Complete text of expert witness testimony for STO and other interveners in the SWEPCO power transmission line can be found at the website www.savetheozarks.org under “Save the Ozarks Expert and Direct Testimony” and also by going to “SWEPCO Project Details” and “Click Here to View Docket 13-041-U Online.”)
Comments:Be the first to comment!
Login to comment!