Thursday, August 08, 2013
The high voltage power transmission line proposed by SWEPCO could cause the destruction of the Christview Ministry Center located near proposed route 108, the southern most route that is now third on the list of six routes under consideration for a 345 kiloVolt Shipe Road to Kings River transmission line. John and Judy Turner purchased the property, that doubles as their residence, nine years ago.
“We offer retreats, prayer and Bible study, working with individuals and small groups to deepen their life in Christ and help them serve the world around them,” Judy Turner said at a recent public hearing before the Arkansas Public Service Commission. “We serve approximately 300 guests a year who come and experience the peace and natural beauty of our setting. They talk about how healing it is to their spirits to hear the quiet, to feel the breeze, to see the hills, the birds, the stars. If the power lines are built, our setting will lose value and appeal. Our ministry may not be able to continue.”
The center stands on a ridge overlooking Keels Creek Valley and the Kings River Valley. Proposed route 108 would pass about 1,000 feet from their property line. The Turners submitted photographs of the Keels Creek Valley as they see it now from their deck, and a Photoshopped version of what it would look like if the power lines are constructed.
“Why cause the destruction of a ministry, a neighborhood and an entire community?” Turner asks. “Since April when we first became aware of the threat, this community has been in shock and in grief. We wake up in the night with nightmares of what may happen.”
Turner said her concerns go beyond the immediate threat to their ministry and livelihood.
“Power companies like SWEPCO are in danger of becoming extinct if they do not recognize the revolution that is coming and change their approach,” she said. “I’m talking about the solar revolution. In a recent Time magazine article, Michael Grunwald says solar installations have increased more than 1,000 percent during the last four years and contributed nearly half of the new power capacity added to the grid the first quarter of this year. The shift from centralized plants to decentralized rooftops won’t be as widespread as the shift from landlines to cell phones, but it could be just as disruptive. Utilities are going to have to find new ways to do business, or they will go where the landline is going – away.”
Turner asked the APSC judge why American Electric Power (AEP)/SWEPCO should be allowed to continue with outdated technology and approaches, lumbering about like a great dinosaur, destroying a jewel of God’s creation and a fragile, unique community here in Lovely County.
“Why would SWEPCO spend millions of dollars in a path toward extinction?” she asked. “This is an opportune time for a radically different approach. Instead of running over us and destroying our land and livelihoods, why not look to the future and work in partnership with us, the people they supposedly serve? This is the opportune moment to end the nightmare and wake up to the new day that is coming, no, the new day that is here.”
Like many others speaking during the two days of public comment, Turner opposes all routes and the project in its entirety.
John Turner said he had listened to testimony the day before of John Mitchell, who had difficulty communicating because of Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult to speak clearly.
“He has given me permission to mention and to reinforce one of his concerns, namely that this project may cause others to get Parkinson’s,” Turner said. “My sister Diane has Parkinson’s. We were brought up on a farm in Kansas. Children brought up on farms are two-to-three times more likely than other people to have Parkinson’s. Why? Agricultural chemicals and well water, just the combination that concerns us with the SWEPCO proposal. Add to that the effects of electromagnetic radiation on neurological disorders and the SWEPCO project provides the script for a real life Hitchcock movie. I predict that more of us will have Parkinson’s and other environmentally induced diseases if SWEPCO’s proposal is implemented.”
He stressed that the technology planned for this proposal is obsolete before it is implemented, and that the future of energy is not in long distance transmission, but in widely distributed, local generation.
“We are on the cusp of a technological revolution that will move rapidly toward distributed generation of electrical power,” Turner said. “Homeowners, business owners, and public and private institutions will be generating their own electricity via solar, wind and water. If the power companies do not move quickly now to help their customers enter this future, many of their customers may well find ways to cut the power company out of their lives.”
Turner said AEP/SWEPCO and its allies such as Carroll Electric need to be rapidly developing plans for how they can lead the way into the next era, helping power consumers become power producers. He recommended AEP/SWEPCO and Carroll Electric earn their profits from providing leases, loans and management for the transition.
“If they do not switch their attention and resources to getting out front in this revolution, they will be left bankrupt in the dust of history,” Turner said.
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